Report calls for Scottish Government to reassess tenement maintenance legislation in Scotland

A report is calling for regular building inspections, the establishment of compulsory owners’ associations and Building Reserve Funds to be written into legislation to protect the future of Scotland’s tenement buildings.

The report has been published by the Working Group on Maintenance of Tenement Scheme Property, of which BEFS and RICS are the secretariats. The Working Group was established in March 2018 and is comprised of sector experts and MSPs from all parliamentary parties. In January 2019, the group published its interim recommendations report and then formally discussed stakeholder and public responses to the report, which were received via consultation. The Working Group on Maintenance of Tenement Scheme Property Final Recommendations Report was published on Tuesday 4 June.

The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart MSP, said:

“This report brings together views from across the Scottish Parliament and housing stakeholders, and its recommendations merit serious and careful consideration.

“We welcome that it acknowledges the important action we have already taken to improve the condition of Scottish tenements, and recognises the challenges that must be met to ensure that our housing stock can continue to provide safe and sustainable homes for the future.”

Recommendations cover three areas: building inspections, owners’ associations and Building Reserve Funds, and how these aspects could function and be implemented.

  • The “scheme property” of all tenements should be inspected every five years with a report prepared that will be publicly available to existing or prospective owners and tenants, neighbours and policy makers.
  • Establishing compulsory owners’ associations are an essential element of tenement maintenance by providing leadership, effective decision-making processes and the ability for groups to enter into contracts.
  • Building Reserve Fund (BRF) should be set up, with funds used for maintenance – as defined in Schedule 1 of the 2004 Act – including repairs and replacement, the installation of insulation, cleaning, gardening, painting and other routine works, the day to day running of a tenement and the reinstatement of a part (but not most) of the tenement.

Shadow housing and planning minister, Graham Simpson MSP, said:

“The final report from the Working Group on Tenement Maintenance is the result of hard work and dedication to this matter. We set out, knowing there is a ticking timebomb on building maintenance across the country.

“We have produced a timely report with some challenging recommendations, but government can be assured that there is cross-party and cross-sector support for what we are suggesting.

“This report is not the end of the road though and we hope the Scottish Government will take up our final recommendations and put in place practices to help keep tenements safe, energy efficient and well maintained.

“I would like to thank all members for their contributions and I look forward to seeing our hard work become policy and practice, improving the lives of the people living in tenements across Scotland.”

The issue of tenement maintenance has grown in prominence in Holyrood, with cross-party support for action to make changes to existing legislation and practice. Numerous debates have taken place in the chamber over the last 18 months; the first of which led to the establishment of the Working Group.

Hew Edgar, RICS Interim Head of Policy, commented:

“Following the publication of the interim recommendations report in January, the group has consulted widely on the three recommendations – through cross-party working and extensive stakeholder engagement – and updated the final recommendations based on feedback received.

“The recommendations are interlinked, and while each recommendation has its own benefits, the required transformative change to improve the fabric of Scotland’s tenement property can only arise through the implementation of all three.”

“RICS welcomes all recommendations within the report and we will continue to work with the Working Group, Government and interested parties to help implement these robust solutions to help future proof Scotland’s historic residential property.”

Read the full report.