MSPs and experts set up new Working Group to tackle quality of tenements

A new group formed in the wake of a Parliamentary debate on tenement maintenance has called for action to ensure the protection of Scotland’s historic and most common type of residence.

The first meeting of the Working Group on maintenance of Tenement Scheme Property highlighted the growing concerns over the current condition of tenement properties and called for the introduction of new initiatives and mechanisms for facilitating communal repairs by owners.

Convener of the new group, Ben Macpherson MSP, said: “This Working Group brings together a range of experts, academics, industry professionals and MSPs from different political parties. Together we will bring forward focused and robust proposals to better enhance and enable the maintenance of tenement communal property.

“Repairing and maintaining roofs, stairways and other communal property is essential in order to improve and sustain a huge amount of Scotland’s housing stock. We need new emphasis and ideas to help keep our tenements in good condition, and I’m confident that this Working Group will bring forward considered solutions to make a meaningful difference.”

According to the most recent Scottish House Condition Survey 2016 there are 566,000 tenement properties, equating to 23% of the total housing stock in Scotland. Pre-1919 built tenement properties are the second most commonly occupied property type in Scotland (behind post-1982 built detached property); and 5% of all pre-1919 built dwellings have “critical, urgent & extensive disrepair”.

To support the cross party Working Group, Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) invited stakeholders to submit a synopsis of the issues and solutions they think require parliamentary attention. Six organisations submitted suggestions and Historic Environment Scotland have shared information on the Traditional Building Health Check, a project arising from a previous BEFS campaign on building maintenance, piloted in Stirling.

Hew Edgar, RICS policy manager, said: “The establishment of this working group is an excellent start to tackling the issue of tenement maintenance. Building maintenance is key to sustaining and future proofing the fabric of our current housing stock – ensuring it provides adequate standards of quality now and for future generations.

“The deteriorating standard of Scotland’s current tenement housing stock is high on the agenda of stakeholders who operate within the built environment - particularly the historic arena - and it is a great step that all parliamentary parties, are recognising this.”

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