In this article we wish to highlight the issue of communal repairs to buildings as this is becoming an increasing issue (in Edinburgh specifically) following the introduction of The Factors Act, the withdrawal of the Statutory Notice System and Edinburgh Council’s decision to no longer be responsible for maintaining and repairing communal stair lighting (as of 1st July 2016).
If you own a property in a shared block you, the owner, are responsible, alongside your neighbours, for the upkeep of the common or shared areas in and around the building. Some examples of shared areas are the roof, stairs, paths and entrances, back greens, boundary walls and door entry and lighting systems.
You may find useful information about how to go about, and who is responsible for, the upkeep of common areas in the topics noted below.
Your Title Deeds
Your Title Deeds and Deeds of Conditions are the first point of reference to understand who is responsible for what repairs and in what percentage and how many owners need to agree for any repairs to be carried out. Your solicitor or the Registers of Scotland would be good places to start if you want to locate your title deeds.
The Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004
This act aims to ensure shared parts of a building are kept in good order and it works to fill the gaps that aren’t covered by the Title Deeds. Please find a link to a useful guide on how you can take this process forward if the title deeds aren’t clear on how to take a repair forward. This also gives information about the Tenancy Management Scheme (“TMS”) (introduced in 2004). The TMS sets out procedures for dividing up repair and maintenance responsibilities, making decisions about the upkeep of common areas and paying for repair and maintenance work.
If your block of flats does not have a Factor then stair meetings and owners associations are good ways of setting up a system of regular communication and agreement on how to carry out communal repairs and maintenance. Property Factors are often in place in new build flat developments but they have not been a common feature in the east of Scotland for traditional tenement buildings as we have historically relied on the Statutory Notice system to get common repairs sorted. Some authorities do still carry out “statutory notice” repairs but this is usually only in situations where there is an emergency issue that is a threat to public health. If carrying out a repair under a statutory notice the local authority will split costs equally between all owners.
As Letting agents Chapmans are not Factors. If a common repair issue arises in a property we are more than happy to instruct up to 3 quotes for this repair and or instruct the work on your behalf. However we would be working on the basis that all funds are recovered directly from you, our landlord, and we would have no involvement in communicating and coordinating money or works with the other owners.