Raising Maintenance in Scotland

Hew Edgar, Policy Manager for RICS Scotland, discusses a Tenement Health Check policy proposal published by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland.

Is your roof a catalogue of problems? Copyright John Gilbert @Under One Roof Scotland

Is your roof a catalogue of problems? Copyright John Gilbert @Under One Roof Scotland

Following significant stakeholder engagement, we have published our Tenement Health Check policy proposal. This establishes mandatory five-year building condition surveys, with an objective to tackle poor maintenance in residential properties with common parts.

We believe that a significant part of Scotland’s existing housing stock is at risk from lack of maintenance – this must be addressed urgently. Building maintenance is key to sustaining and future-proofing the fabric of buildings of every kind and nowhere is this more problematical than in the case of buildings in Common Ownership.

Our Tenement Health Check policy proposal outlines how Government intervention, owner responsibility and greater stairwell communication can ensure well-maintained buildings can provide adequate living conditions now and for generations to come. Neglected buildings cause social problems and end up being condemned, which will only exacerbate a housing supply problem that is already critical.

Poor maintenance of buildings in common ownership is prevalent throughout Scotland, irrespective of location and whether or not third party management arrangements are in place; this points to systemic problems that require government action. We propose, as part of the solution to this, measures to encourage, and if necessary compel, common owners to have condition surveys undertaken every five years.

The harrowing state of Scotland’s tenements

The Scottish Housing Condition Survey for 2015 was published in December 2016 and painted a harrowing picture of the current condition of Scotland’s housing stock – particularly the “old stock”, which were built pre-1919.

The figures indicated that the number of tenement properties in Scotland reached 579,000; equating to 24% of all domestic property, the most common type of dwelling in Scotland.

Tenements that were built pre-1919 amounted to 218,000 (38% of tenement stock, 9% of total stock), making them the second most common occupied property type in Scotland, behind post-1982 detached properties.

We have deep concerns that this survey’s figures indicated that 68% of pre-1919 dwellings are with “critical disrepair” (down from 72% in 2014) and 8% of pre-1919 dwellings are with “Critical, Urgent & Extensive disrepair” (up from 5% in 2014).

It is clear that property maintenance is not high on the agenda of either Government or owners; this could have huge ramifications for future generations.

This is a national problem that requires a national solution; we hope that property maintenance will be a considered a key Government policy in 2017.

Tenement Health Check Policy Proposal