Proposals for new legislation to improve tenement maintenance have been put forward by a Scottish Parliamentary Working Group of MSPs and others.

Under One Roof Scotland is keen for flat owners’ views to be taken into account.

Read on for our quick summary of the proposals and tell us what you think of the key features.  We’ll pass on the overall results to Working Party.

The main proposals in the report are for

·         Compulsory 5 yearly property inspections

·         Compulsory Owners Associations

·         Compulsory Sinking Funds

 
You can see the interim report here.  Consultation on proposals is open until 27th February. If you are not a flat owner, please give your comments via the official consultation channels.

Do you have a common repair story?

The Working Party is also keen to gather examples of where these proposals would have been of help to flat owners.  If you have such a story, please tell us below and we’ll pass these on too.

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* 1. Compulsory Owners Associations

Why are these proposed?


While owners association are useful in bringing owners together to improve tenement management and promote good relationships between neighbours, they are limited in their ability to act because, even when properly constituted, they are not corporate bodies and cannot sign contracts.  This leaves individual owners exposed if there are problems.

Key features

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Establishing the new owners associations would be compulsory.
They will appoint a manager who could be a factor, another type of employee or an owner. The manager would have powers to make owners co-operate and abide by “house rules”.
The manager’s appointment would be reconfirmed every year.
There would be provision for a committee of owners to work with the manager.
A single annual meeting would agree the budget and programme of works for the year and the manager would have full authority to implement the programme and to commission emergency repairs (within the approved budget) without going back to owners each time.
The annual meeting would require a minimum number of owners to be present.  If owners are apathetic and do not attend or make their views known, a second meeting can be called and decisions made by those there, even if this is below the minimum number required.
The new owners association would have its own bank account and could set monthly management and sinking fund contribution levels.
Owners associations would be required for buildings of all sizes though there might be exceptions for those with say only 2 flats.
Note

Establishing owners associations as corporate bodies is legally complex and might require reference to the UK Parliament.  A fall-back position is to make them voluntary by majority agreement of owners in existing blocks and compulsory in all new developments.

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* 2. Compulsory Sinking Funds

Why are these proposed?


Sinking funds ensure owners save for future major repairs. Owners will not be able to withdraw their contributions when they sell their flats. A building with a good sinking fund will become more attractive to future purchasers than a similar building with no fund.

Key features

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Sinking Funds would be compulsory for all ages and types of flat.
Sinking Fund contributions would be held on owners behalf by a secure, highly regulated and accountable not-for-profit organisation. Fund managers should have the ability to invest funds in order to grow them in line with increasing repair and maintenance costs.
Fund management rules and owners share of contributions will be in accordance to the rules currently set out for managing and paying for repairs in the tenement’s current title deeds.
Owners who cannot afford contributions will not be required to pay but any underpayments to the Sinking Fund will have to be made up before the flat can be sold.
A penalty to cover lost interest will be applied when underpayments are made up.
Owners who default on payments will still be required to pay for major repairs and will just have to find other ways to fund the cost.

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* 3. Compulsory 5 yearly inspections

Why are these proposed?


Experience in other types of buildings shows that periodic property inspections can lead to regular maintenance programmes which are cost effective for owners preventing major repairs being required.

Key features

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The inspections would be compulsory at minimum 5 year intervals
The inspection would cover the common parts of the building - roof, chimneys, walls, stairs etc
The inspections would be carried out by independent building professionals with appropriate training and professional insurance.
The inspection results would be publicly available to all owners, prospective purchasers, tenants, neighbours and policy makers.
The inspection would be much more thorough than those in the current Home Report but wouldn’t replace the Home Report survey which also includes a property valuation.
The results of the inspection would be set out in a way which allows owners to plan a programme of repairs over the coming 5 years
Required repairs would be identified in 5 categories from “No problem” to “Immediate action required”.
Cost of identified repairs could be an added feature.
Owners will be able to update the inspection with details of completed repairs creating a permanent record or building "log book".

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* 4. If you have a tenement repair story that shows why we need better legislation to cover tenement management and maintenance, please tell us here. You can paste text from a file.

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* 5. If you have given us a story and would be happy to share it further, please give us a contact email.  We will only use your email address with care and will check back with you before passing it on to the secretariat of the Steering Group.

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* 6. Please tick your parliamentary constituency.  If you don't know it, give your postcode in the comments box.

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* 7. We'll be reporting the survey results in future Under One Roof newsletters.  If you don't already subscribe to our occasional newsletters ( approx 4 per annum), sign up now

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