Taking notice of factor law

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New management rules could give city residents hope, says Sheila Gilmore

Complaints about high fees, poor workmanship, “favoured firms”, a lack of consultation with owners – it must be Edinburgh’s statutory notice system.

In fact what I had in mind were all the complaints I’ve heard about property factors.

Factors provide a service, mainly for people living in flats, to look after communal repairs, garden maintenance and so on. It hasn’t been traditional in Edinburgh but is frequent in new-build developments.

Where there are factors in my constituency I’ve picked up a number of complaints from constituents. So it was good to see the Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011 become law last year. Now we’re close to the implementation date of October.

The Bill introduces a registration scheme and a statutory code of conduct for property factors. It will be an offence for a property factor to operate in Scotland without being registered, and will introduce an accessible form of alternative dispute resolution. This will be reinforced by a code of conduct.

For this to make a real difference it must be vigorously enforced. Setting up a registration scheme is one thing, making sure it has teeth is something else.

Timing couldn’t be better given that one of the options Edinburgh City Council is suggesting to replace the discredited statutory notice system is to encourage owners to use factors.

Organising communal repairs is far from easy. That’s why the statutory notice system came into being. Will factors be better? At least the new legislation should give owners the hope of a better service.

• Sheila Gilmore is MP for Edinburgh East