An interim report published by the Scottish Parliament’s Working Group on Maintenance of Tenement Scheme Property has warned of a “housing crisis”, as nearly a fifth of Scotland's housing dates from pre-1919. Of those properties, 68% have disrepair to critical elements, and 36% have critical and urgent repair needs. The report makes three main recommendations:
The common parts of all tenements should be inspected every five years and a report prepared that will be publicly available to existing or prospective owners and tenants, neighbours and policy makers. This will allow them to see what condition each building is in, how much expenditure is required to bring it up to standard if it is defective, and what needs to be done by way of ongoing maintenance.
Establishing compulsory owners’ associations
A revised version of the Tenement Management Scheme (TMS (B)) – as described in the Scottish Law Commission Report on the Law of the Tenement (Scot Law Com No 162, 1998) – would provide a suitable model to establish an owners’ association as a corporate body and should become the default scheme. Legislation could achieve this, without the need for conveyancing.
Establishing compulsory sinking funds
A sinking fund is like a pension for the building. It is set up to ensure regular affordable payments that contribute to a growing fund to deal with future major expenditure. It spreads the cost of major repairs over a number of generations of owners and ensures works can be carried out at the right time.
The group recommends that:
- sinking funds should be introduced on a compulsory basis, even if at a minimal level or phased in by building age;
- sinking funds should be paid into a specially established holding fund; and
- the amount paid into each individual share of the sinking fund could be either a flat rate decided by Scottish Parliament, or proportional to the amount each flat/unit is due to pay as its share of common repairs and maintenance.
These interim recommendations were open for consultation until 27 February 2019 and, once finalised, will provide the basis of a solutions report due to be published in summer 2019.