Report calls for overhaul of Scottish tenement maintenance legislation

Regular inspection, ownership associations and sinking funds are required to improve and protect tenement buildings across Scotland, according to a new report.

The report comes as the issue of tenement repair and maintenance has been rising up the Scottish parliamentary agenda.

Report calls for overhaul of Scottish tenement maintenance legislation

During a parliamentary debate in early 2018, SNP MSP Ben Macpherson called for the Scottish Government to review current legislation and mechanisms for facilitating communal repairs, and to consider any potential legislative changes and new initiatives that could help owners to better maintain their tenements. Then in May, Graham Simpson MSP secured a commitment from housing minister Kevin Stewart to review existing legislation during a vote in the Scottish Parliament.

The interim report has been published by the Working Group on Maintenance of Tenement Scheme Property, which was established March 2018, and comprises MSPs from all parliamentary parties and sector experts. Recommendations from the interim publication will provide the basis of a solutions report, published in summer 2019.

Recommendations cover three areas and how these aspects could operate and be implemented:

  • The Common Parts of all tenements should be inspected every five years and a report prepared that will be publicly available to existing or prospective owners and tenants, neighbours and policy makers
  • Establishing compulsory owners’ associations
  • Sinking Funds should be introduced on a compulsory basis, ensure regular affordable payments contribute to a growing fund to deal with future major expenditure.

Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for local government, housing and planning, said: “The maintenance of common property is an important issue and owners in tenements, both homeowners and landlords, need to fully accept their responsibilities for maintaining their property. I commend the tenement maintenance working group for bringing together MSPs from all parties and a wide range of stakeholders to produce their interim recommendations report.

“I encourage everyone with an interest in the issues raised by this report to respond to the working group’s recommendations. This government will give serious consideration to the proposals in the final report.”

Hew Edgar, RICS interim head of policy, added: “The Scottish Housing Condition Survey 2017 shows that nearly a fifth of all our housing is pre-1919 and 68% of those have disrepair to critical elements. It is imperative this is addressed to ensure a sustainable standard of Scotland’s most common type of dwelling. Last year, the Scottish Parliament voted to review existing tenement maintenance legislation and consider the implementation of mandatory tenement health checks.

“Five yearly inspections will go some way to full filling this, supplementing the information provided in Home Reports. Undertaken, by qualified building professionals, the inspections would also include information on communal areas such as roofs and concealed parts.

“RICS welcomes all recommendations within the interim report and we will continue to work with the group to ensure and implement robust solutions to help future proof Scotland’s built environment.”

RICS will host a Parliamentary reception this evening to discuss findings of the report with MSPs and industry leaders across the built environment.

Shadow housing and planning minister, Graham Simpson MSP, said: “This interim report is a product of the hard work and determination of a dedicated working group, representing a cross sector of the public and industry. Tenement maintenance is in a critical state and the time to act is now. I look forward to hearing people’s views on this interim report and its draft recommendations and improving our ideas into formulated policy ideas for the Scottish Government to consider.”

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