Florance Kennedy: Keep on top of tenement repairs

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As Edinburgh’s elderly tenements face up to another winter, it is easy for their owners to bury 
 their heads in the sand and pretend their major assets will weather the storms without any problems.

Unfortunately, many of them are wrong. Buildings, like cars, need regular servicing and repairs. Edinburgh City Council haa withdrawn the previous Property Conservation Service which Edinburgh tenement owners had come to rely upon for mutual repairs.

Although a more wide-ranging enforcement service is being discussed, it will not take effect until the summer of 2015 at the earliest, and even then it will simply oblige homeowners to undertake repairs, not do them for them.

Times have changed and owners of tenement properties now have to face up to the fact that nobody else is going to do it for them – the buck stops with them. Unless they want their most valuable asset to deteriorate, they have to take responsibility for mutual repairs whether they are compelled to or not.

An increasing number of tenement stairs are turning to factors to manage their properties, at a significant expense. But there is another way. My business, Edinburgh Stair Management, helps owners retain control of their repairs while also benefiting from help and advice from those who have been there and done it.

Edinburgh Stair Management was born out of personal experience. Between 2010 and 2012, a group of owners of a B-listed property in central Edinburgh organised and paid for a major stonework repair from a standing start and without council assistance or external funding. We worked through all the challenges as a team.

That kind of experience is invaluable, and if we can pass on what we learned to others facing the same problems, it could save a lot of time, stress and money. For this reason I set up Edinburgh Stair Management to help others through the process.

We help tenement property owners undertake mutual repairs in the most cost-effective way possible, by forming an owners’ association which retains control of all work undertaken. You can find out how to do this by attending one of our open seminars to be held in December, or by checking out our website on www.edinburghstairs.org.uk.

We are holding a series of open seminars to demonstrate the value of our services. The first is on Monday, December 1, in Stockbridge Library from 6.30-8pm. The second is a fortnight later on Monday, December 15, in Morningside Library at the same time. To be sure of a place, email info@edinburghstairs.org.uk.

Florance Kennedy is the founder of Edinburgh Stair Management