Registered Social Landlords to become subject to Freedom of Information obligations in November 2019

From November 2019, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 will be extended to include Registered Social Landlords (RSLs).

What will this mean in practice?

RSLs, who are private bodies, will be required to comply with freedom of information legislation and respond to freedom of information requests made by the public, with effect from 11th November 2019.

The draft Scottish Statutory Instrument, which will transform the proposals into law, was recently published and the Order is due to come into force on 11 November 2019.

Why RSLs?

Although RSLs are private bodies, they are considered by many to be responsible for providing an important service to society. This is because they assist in providing reasonably priced accommodation, providing nearly 50% of all social housing provided in Scotland.

Despite being private bodies, RSLs are already subject to freedom of information legislation in respect of environmental information, by virtue of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004. Therefore, the proposed extension of the 2002 Act to RSLs is perhaps unsurprising (or even overdue?).

What should RSLs be doing to prepare for 11th November 2019?

RSLs will need to take action to ensure that they are compliant with the 2002 Act by November 2019 (however, the Scottish Information Commissioner will offer assistance to RSLs in this respect).

What does that action look like?
  • Implement a Publication Scheme
  • Train staff in recognising and handling FOISA requests
  • Implement internal procedures to maintain records of requests, how to deal with and respond to requests 
  • Prepare template documents

If you require assistance in implementing your FOISA framework, please contact us.

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