Scottish Parliamentary Working Group on Tenement Maintenance

Addressing the condition of Scotland’s buildings and maintaining our built heritage.

The Scottish Parliamentary Working Group has been meeting since March 2018 with the purpose of establishing solutions to aid, assist and compel owners of tenement properties to maintain their buildings. In May 2019 it produced recommendations for mandatory Owners Associations, Building Reserve Funds and Building Surveys, details of which you will find below.

The Scottish Government published the following response on 20th December 2019:

1. We agree that action is needed to improve the condition of our tenements to ensure that our buildings can provide good quality, safe and sustainable homes in the future.

2. Any change needs to be delivered in a way that engages people, and the burden of increased costs must not fall on those least able to pay. We must not address poor housing condition at the cost of pricing out some of the most vulnerable in society from their homes.

3. The maintenance of common property is an important issue and owners in tenements, both homeowners and landlords, need to fully accept their shared responsibilities for maintaining their property. It is important that where there are powers under existing legislation, these are being used appropriately.

4. We will engage with the Scottish Law Commission on the three recommendations, with a view to referring these matters to the Scottish Law Commission to carry out a law reform project and provide a report with recommendations and a draft Bill that would implement the reforms. We will also include ongoing fire safety and energy efficiency considerations as part of this engagement.

5. The Report’s recommendations involve a fundamental change to property rights for owners in tenements, so we need to ensure that what we put in place works. Further research is necessary to determine how elements of the recommendations can be made to work in practice.

6. The Report’s aspiration for an Act of Parliament in 2025 is ambitious, and may not be achievable. The Scottish Law Commission is already committed to a full Programme of work and we need to take account of their existing priorities and resources, and also the processes required for a law reform project.

7. Whilst legislation is being considered and in development, we will seek to support voluntary and incremental change, including:

  • commissioning research to determine the proportion, geography, and tenure mix of relevant buildings, and how this may affect the viability and establishment of owners’ associations;
  • supporting development of good practice to encourage owners to set up their own associations, including considerations on condition reports;
  • the development of a form for a tenement condition report and a framework for recognised professionals to complete it;
  • the development of proposals for a publically accessible online platform to support access to tenement condition reports, so that people are able to complete them and share them on a voluntary basis and to facilitate a mandatory system;
  • for tenement condition to be included as part of ongoing considerations on improvements to Home Reports;
  • convening a forum of finance professionals to advise on a building reserve fund, initially available on a voluntary basis;
  • commissioning research to evaluate what factors affect repair costs and how to set a level of expected contribution for a building reserve fund; and
  • consideration of what an affordable, viable compulsory factoring service might look like, and engage with property factors on this;

8. Members of the Working Group are commended for their efforts and the production of their Report. This response recognises the importance of their recommendations and commits this Government to take action to deliver the changes needed to support owners and ensure common property is protected and preserved for the benefit of future generations. A programme for the actions identified above will be developed and published in the New Year.

The Scottish Government’s Tenement Condition: Workplan for 2020 to achieve the above, was published in February 2020 and can be found here.

The Working Group has responded to consultations on Housing to 2040, Housing Beyond 2021 and the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland.


BEFS commissioned a further report from Douglas Robertson with financial support from Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Property Managers Association Scotland and the Scottish Government.


This film was commissioned for the conference Tenements Today, Tenements Tomorrow organised by BEFS, the Scottish Civic Trust and Under One Roof.

The conference examined the Final Report of Recommendations  which the working group propose will enhance the ability of tenement owners to work collectively encouraging and enabling effective maintenance and repair of their properties. This would require mandatory:

  • Owners Associations
  • Building Reserve Funds
  • 5 Yearly Building Surveys

The Scottish Parliament agreed the following motion from Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning on the 26th June:

That the Parliament appreciates the work of the Working Group on Maintenance of Tenement Scheme Property and the publication of its Final Recommendations Report; acknowledges that the group had cross-party representation and has gathered views from across the Parliament and that of the housing sector; notes that the report acknowledges the important action that has already been taken to improve the condition of Scottish tenements; recognises the challenges that must be met to ensure that Scotland’s housing stock can continue to provide safe and sustainable homes for the future, and believes that the group’s recommendations merit serious and careful consideration.

The full transcript of the preceding debate is available here in which the Minister committed to a substantive response from the Scottish Government to the working group’s recommendations in the autumn of 2019.

The final report is based on responses to interim recommendations published in January 2019 with three interrelated recommendations, each being necessary to achieve culture change and long-term benefits for owners and properties. Full details of the recommendations are in these documents:

These interim recommendations were put out for consultation until the end of February and you can find a summary of responses here.

In tandem with the above, BEFS and RICS, with additional financial support from the Scottish Government, commissioned a report from Professor Douglas Robertson. This paper examines: the current arrangements for ensuring that common repairs are undertaken within flatted property in Scotland, and asks if these arrangements are effective? Full Report.

MEMBERS

ORGANISATIONS

  • Graham Simpson MSP, Convener
  • Daniel Johnson MSP, Vice Convener
  • Andy Wightman MSP, Vice Convener
  • Stuart McMillan MSP
  • Maureen Watt MSP
  • Jeremy Balfour MSP
  • Claudia Beamish MSP
  • Kezia Dugdale MSP
  • Gordon Lindhurst MSP
  • John Mason MSP
  • Stuart McMillan MSP
  • Sandra White MSP
  • Professor Douglas Robertson
  • Dr Andrew Steven
  • Andrew Milne MRICS
  • Neil Watt
  • BEFS, Secretariat Contact
  • RICS, Secretariat
  • Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
  • Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations
  • Property Managers Association Scotland
  • Tenement Action Group
  • RIAS
  • Scottish Association of Landlords
  • City of Edinburgh Council
  • Existing Homes Alliance

MINUTES

In November 2017, Graham Simpson MSP hosted a parliamentary reception regarding RICS tenement health check proposals. Subsequently, in January 2018 the Scottish Parliament debated Ben MacPherson MSP’s motion on Maintenance of Tenement Communal Property, which included the proposal for a cross party working group on the subject.

The working group was convened by Ben Macpherson MSP in March 2018. The first meeting saw cross party attendance with representatives from property management, property law, chartered surveying and architecture with BEFS and the RICS providing the secretariat function. The aims are long term, provisionally making recommendations at the end of this parliament.

In May 2018, the issue of tenement maintenance was progressed in a Scottish Parliament debate on a motion on the inadequacy of existing legislation in dealing with the condition of Scotland’s tenement housing stock and a vote in favour of a review of the relevant legislation.

On 27th August 2018 David Stewart of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations organised a visit to the offices of Dunedin Canmore for members of the working group. This included a short tour of tenements undergoing repairs in Gorgie and Tollcross in Edinburgh and learning about the challenges housing associations face in handling maintenance in tenements where they are not the majority owner. The presentation from Stuart Pendreich of Dunedin Canmore  is available here. The visit provided very useful evidence for the working group.