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Home | News | Cross party Support for Research into Maintenance of Tenement Communal Property

Cross party Support for Research into Maintenance of Tenement Communal Property

Published on 19/01/2018

Hacking and Paterson have championed improvements in the maintenance and repair of tenements throughout the country for many years and were heartened with the cross-party support shown for research into common property repair in tenement property when the topic was debated in the Scottish Parliament on 9th January 2018.
The motion, led by Ben Macpherson MSP, asked the Scottish Parliament the following:
“That the parliament recognises that a significant proportion of people in Edinburgh and across Scotland live in tenement buildings; believes that the maintenance of communal property, otherwise known as the common parts or ‘scheme property’ as defined in the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004, in tenements is essential to the upkeep of the buildings and the standard of living for owner occupiers and tenants; understands with concern that, in many cases, such scheme property is in a state of disrepair, degradation or deterioration and believes that current legislation is not consistently fulfilling its intentions to encourage owners to establish effective arrangements for communal repairs and undertaking maintenance; acknowledges the various potential solutions put forward by groups and individuals in the housing sector to help address this issue and notes the view that, for the well-being of owner occupiers and tenants and to sustain and enhance the country’s urban structure and environment, the government should review the situation and consider any legislative changes, new initiatives, enhanced use of existing rules and / or further action by local authorities that could facilitate improved upkeep of scheme property.”
Ben Macpherson MSP opened the debate and some points of note were as follows:
“It is clear from what we hear from constituents at advice surgeries that issues with their tenements, from visiting people whom we know who live in tenements, and from listening to MSPs of stakeholders, that poor maintenance of buildings that are in common ownership is prevalent throughout Scotland.”
He went on to suggest that:
“it is also clear that, in many instances, the measures that we currently have in place to maintain tenement buildings are not working as effectively or as comprehensively as they need to work.”
“New ideas include several possible initiatives. We could, for example, establish compulsory factoring.”
“We could allocate more funding for repairs, as happened in the 1980s, or we could collaborate on new solutions with financial organisations such as credit unions.”
“We could require owners to pay into sinking funds and we could press the UK Government to provide VAT relief on repairs. We could insist on routine inspections for residential properties, like the inspections that the Health & Safety Executive undertakes in workplaces, or we could create legal obligations such that trained professionals must undertake housing checks regularly, perhaps every five years, as the RICS has proposed, thereby creating an enforceable tenement health check that would be similar to MOTs for cars and which could be linked to Home Reports.”
Graham Simpson MSP, in support of the motion, said:
“In Scotland, a quarter of all domestic dwellings, 579,000, are tenements and 38% of those are pre-1919 buildings. In fact, one home in five is a pre-1919 building. According to the House Conditions Survey of 2016, 6% of all properties have extensive disrepair, 28% have urgent disrepair and 48% have disrepair to critical elements.”
“We are fast reaching a condition cliff edge and, if we do not act, we are going to face crisis.”
“The RICS has called for regular tenement health checks and I back that. It is also surely right that we take a further look at existing legislation and ask whether it is fit for purpose. I am also sympathetic for calls for factors to be mandatory.”
Daniel Johnson MSP further supported the motion, commenting as follows:
“Maintenance has always been an issue, for the fundamental reason that although individual flats are owned as individual bits of property, there are multiple homeowners but one building.”

“We have to make it easier and more straightforward to maintain our tenemented buildings.”
“We need to look at how we can ensure that shared responsibility is honoured by all owners.”
“The third key issue is redress. We must ensure that where people have an obligation and a responsibility for their share of maintenance and for undertaking works, owners are able to get money back when relationships break down.”
“But we also need to look at whether new legislation is required, perhaps if the altered Title Deeds were to make some requirements such as having a stair committee obligatory.”
Andy Wightman MSP stated:
“There is an urgent need to improve the legal and financial framework under which common properties are maintained.”
“It is clear that we need reform, but, as with many reforms in domestic property, it feels as though the government is nervous about anything that replaces what is perceived to be a greater burden on homeowners and landlords. That is a fundamental problem in securing consensus on how to resolve such questions and it is based on a flawed premise.”
“With proper maintenance and refurbishment, such buildings should last many more centuries. In that light such properties are part of the public infrastructure of our cities.”
“I am persuaded by the argument of RICS, BEFS, RIAS and others that urgent reform is necessary. That has to include new legislation. It is vital that such legislation be designed to incentivise regular maintenance, but it must also contain mandatory provisions that compel owners of common property to contribute to that, as some might be unwilling to do so.”
Gordon Lindhurst’s MSP commented:
“It may be that at some point in the past, owners took their responsibilities more immediately seriously than owners do now.”
“Some of the ideas that have been floated such as those behind the tenement health check policy, may be welcome, but the potential solutions may be a bit more difficult, and a whole change of culture may be required in terms of owners in Scotland. We need practical solutions that will work, not new measures that will not be implemented.”
Glasgow MSP John Mason, also in support of the motion, confirmed:
“…when factors are in place there is a structure for potentially getting common repairs done.”
“Should we override the Title Deeds and impose factors? Should there be compulsory sinking funds for maintenance?”
Jeremy Balfour MSP stated the following:
“We need to find different solutions, and we need to learn from good practice. However I return to my main point that whatever solution we come up with, local authorities must be appropriately funded to make sure that it works, not just in theory, but in practice.”
We hope our tenement home owning customers welcomed the clear cross-party and cross-country support for researching the issues restricting tenement maintenance and repair and were encouraged by the response from the Minister for Local Government and Housing Mr. Kevin Stewart MSP’s who commented:
“I appreciate and recognise that there can be particular difficulties in dealing with common parts of tenements, which require co-operation between owners and can cut across tenures, as many Members have already said.”
“Some of the ideas that have been raised by Members in today’s debate were previously raised in the Scottish Government’s Common Housing Quality Standard Forum including sinking funds and five yearly tenemental surveys which have been suggested by RICS, the Built Environment Forum Scotland and the Chartered Institute of Housing.”
“I again thank Ben Macpherson for securing the debate and providing an opportunity to shine a light on these important matters. I am glad that there has been a consensual debate. Let us all continue to work together to improve properties right across Scotland.”
For many years Hacking and Paterson have been proactively promoting the requirement for better maintenance being involved in various groups, all with the same goal, that of preserving the condition of Scotland’s housing stock.
Hacking and Paterson have and will continue to offer our services, knowledge and experience to this cross party working group and hope that we can help influence and assist our home owning customers and all tenement homeowners across the country in improving the standards of tenements throughout the country.
We look ahead with anticipation as to the future developments and improvements hopefully arising from this debate and I any homeowners wish to find out more about how Hacking and Paterson can assist them with proactive maintenance please contact us here.

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