Repairs scandal: New scheme’s minimalist approach

The property repairs scandal has hit the city hard. Picture: Callum Bennetts
The property repairs scandal has hit the city hard. Picture: Callum Bennetts
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BLUEPRINTS for the new property repairs department will see surveyors adopt a “minimalist” approach to building faults and a call-out charge for emergency work, it has emerged.

In a bid to distance the new system from its scandal-hit predecessor, only work required to fix a specific fault would be undertaken – even if other repairs are identified which could pose future 
problems. This marks a major departure from the doomed property repair service which was accused of a slew of improprieties including over-charging for unnecessary work.

A fee has not yet been determined for emergency call-outs but is expected be revealed in December. It is thought the charge would help supplement the new Shared Repairs 
Service, which failed to break even under its previous guise.

The 15 per cent administration fee imposed by the council for managing repairs is also likely to face a hike in a bid to ensure the books balance.

And a new compulsory building repair scheme, that was axed amid allegations of bribery and overcharging, may be reintroduced to ensure essential repairs are carried out to crumbling tenements.

Council leader Andrew Burns said he was cautious about returning to a compulsory work programme given the “improper” management of the previous scheme, but said there had been public demand.

He said: “There’s a balance to be struck here. Every other city in Scotland and beyond in the rest of the UK does manage without a statutory notice system but there are very big strengths in the system that we had, it was just implemented and managed improperly which led to all sorts of issues.

“I’m not averse to the reintroduction of some form of enforcement, but given the experience we have had we have to be really careful.”

In a council report, Mark Turley, director of services for communities, said reviving the compulsory statutory notice scheme was “high risk” and would do nothing to “drive a culture change where owners are increasingly taking responsibility for the maintenance of their own homes”.

The new system may also see the introduction of a trusted trader scheme – where the public can access details for credible companies that have been vetted by the council – and a facilitation service to help mediate a solution between home owners in a stairwell.