Edinburgh Tenement Communal / Shared Repairs
Organising shared repairs on Edinburgh tenements can be a bit of a minefield; Who should organise the work? Who should pay what? What role does the council have? How much will things cost? How do you deal with awkward neighbours or those who refuse to contribute to the costs? Who is the right person to do the job?

We can’t hope to fully answer all those questions in this single article but we hope to at least provide some pointers.

 
 
1) What shared repairs might be needed and who does them?
 

WHAT

RESPONSIBLE?

WHO TO CALL

COUNCIL INVOLVMENT

OTHER / NOTES

Stair Light Repairs

All owners in stair

 

Electrician (Ideally Certified but not essential)

Stopped in July 2016.

Still pay for electricity

Requires special key to access light covers.

Door Entry System

All flat’s affected

 

Door Entry Specialist . Some Electrician’s deal with too.

None: - See 3 below

Most frequently just a single flat affected and often just needs new handset.

Drain blockage clearance

Either just those connected to drain or all (check title deeds – see 3 below)

Drain Clearing Specialist . (Some plumbers, or even roofers also deal with)

Deal with if owners unable to resolve. Charge Additional £40 / property up to 20 Properties.

Annual clearing of gutters can help prevent.

Sometimes occurs after bathroom or kitchen alterations in one flat in block.

Roof Repairs. (including Chimneys)

All owners in block (not just those in common stair. See 3 below)

Roofers

NB: Be sure roofer understand local building regs.

Emergency repair if danger to public safety (e.g. falling masonry or slates)

Costs for emergency repair served by council apply to all owners irrespective of title deeds. 

Gutter Clearing

All owners in the block

Roofers , Some Specialist Gutter clearing companies. Cherry Picker / Access Platforms .

Rope Access Companies

None: - See 3 below

Left to clog up blocked guttering can lead to the need for expensive internal and external repairs that will not be covered by insurance

Stair Cleaning

Owners and / or tenants.

Cleaning Company

None

Tenancy agreements my mean tenants are responsible.

Main / stair door repairs or replacement

Owners within stairwell

Joiner

Painter

None

Not a job Joiners like (See 4 Below)

 

Stonework. Pointing. Render.

All owners in block

Stonemaso n or  Builder . Possibly Plasterer .

Emergency repair if danger to public safety (e.g. falling masonry or slates)

Plasterer may be cheaper option for render or pointing work than builder or stonemason.

Stairwell Plastering or Painting.

Owners within stairwell

Plasterer

Decorator

None unless danger to public due to falling plaster.

Often needed where there has been water damage round cupola.

Garden

All owners with access (whether or not they use it)

Gardener .

Landscaper

(subject to size of job)

If owners do nothing after complaint made, council may enforce (for a charge)

For garden walls etc see “Stonework. Pointing. Render”

 
2) Who is responsible for organising & paying for shared repairs?
 
  • The title deeds of a property will usually state who is responsible for what.
  • What is stated in the title deeds always takes precedence.
  • Where title deeds are silent or unworkable The Tenements Act Scotland 2004 applies.
  • In that instance responsibilities, costs and voting rights are shared equally among all properties.
  • Tenement blocks may have one or more properties with their own door. In these instances those properties may not be responsible for work in the stairwell but will be responsible for their share of “building fabric maintenance”
  • Where door entry systems affect just one flat that owner will be responsible. However, where a building fabric defect affects just one flat all flats will be responsible.
     
    IMPORTANT: - The law states that a property owner is legally responsible for any accidents caused by defects in their building. That is to say if someone were to be injured due a defect (such as falling plaster) then all owners would be jointly and severally liable.


3) What role does the council take in shared repairs?

There was a time when owners could request Edinburgh Council to just get on with repairs. However the City of Edinburgh Council’s Statutory Notice scam put a stop to this.

a) Edinburgh Council will still issue a statutory notice when “There is a defect in a building that may be a risk to safety of health” (click on the link for more info)

b) They will also issue an advice notice and bill in the case of a drain blockage.

In either of the above cases the council will issue an equal share invoice to ALL the properties under the roof line from fire wall to fire wall.

There is a minimum charge per property and an administration fee may be added. (Click Here for More)

c) For non urgent Shared repairs the council provide a DIY Tool Kit. Note that this requires one owner to take the lead in organising the repairs. It is an onerous task.

d) If one, or more, owner(s) refuses to pay for shared works and the majority of owners are in agreement to do the work then council provide a “Missing Shares Service”. An application can be made to the council to pay the “Missing Share” the council will then recover the contribution from the non-paying owners.

4) Working with trades people.

- Tradespeople are sometimes reluctant to work on “Shared Repairs”:
  • Time and effort providing costs for work that never goes ahead because owners cannot agree.
  • Multiple “options” requested on quotes to answer all the questions from all the owners.
  • Concerned they won’t be paid in full when work is completed or that they will be asked to get individual payments from each property.
  • Owners choose the lowest number at the bottom of a quote and not compare quotes on a like for like basis or understand what each quote contains.
  • Once work starts owners will often start issuing instructions on additional works and expect no further cost.
  • Gaining access to “all properties” when needed can be problematic and time consuming.

 HomeForce’s tips for dealing with tradespeople for shared repairs

  • Seek agreement in principal with all owners BEFORE approaching tradespeople
  •  If an initial “ballpark” cost is needed search on line. If calling a tradesperson ask if they can provide a ballpark cost, don’t ask for a quote straight off.
  • Don’t get the obligatory “Three Quotes” until the requirement is fully specified.
  • Understand what each quote received contains (materials to be used, areas to be worked on, why one trades person recommends something that another doesn’t etc.) so that a like for like comparison can be made.
  • For extensive works consider employing a surveyor. This ensures all works needed are identified AND that all tradespeople can quote on a like for like basis.
  • Ensure all owners pay their full share to central account prior to instructing contractor / tradesperson.
  • Be aware that to diagnose a fault (and therefore quote to repair it) a tradesperson will charge for their time (as indeed any profession does).
  • Ensure all owners know that the tradesperson will only take instruction from the lead owner.

5) Other information
  • Communal Bank Accounts: - Can be onerous to set up. We recommend, if it will be suitable, setting up a "Community Account" designed for clubs and societies. Some banks may insist that a "Business Account" be set up.

To speak to HomeForce shared repairs call us on 0131 315 0000, email us at info@homeforce.co.uk or submit a request on our “Book a Tradesperson” form.