MOT for homes and charging developers for repairs among possible solutions to Edinburgh's crumbling tenement crisis

RADICAL steps are needed to tackle the Capital’s crumbling tenement crisis, experts have warned.

By Andy Shipley
Monday, 14th October 2019, 6:00 am
Scott Miller of Compass Roofing
Scott Miller of Compass Roofing

An investigation by the Evening News this week revealed a five-fold rise in reports of falling masonry in ten years - with one in three posing a risk to the public.

Possible solutions suggested include an annual safety test for buildings and hitting rich developers in the pocket for repair costs.

Check out our interactive map of masonry falls HERE“There should be some sort of MOT for a building,” said roofer Scott Miller, 50. “If the oil light comes on in your car, you get it looked at.”

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The Evening News mapped all 179 masonry falls in the city last year

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'Someone is going to be killed' - Nearly 180 reports of falling masonry from Edi...

The taskforce came up with three recommendations - building inspections every five years, compulsory owners’ associations to take responsibility and reserve funds to pay for work.

“Historically, communal Edinburgh tenements have always been a thorny subject as demonstrated by statutory roof repairs notices,” said Mr Cole-Hamilton.

“We need to start talking across communities and the city about whether we start sink funds for stairs to deal with structural issues when they arise.

“Historically, there’s been a problem of absentee landlords not paying their way and reneging on their obligations in their buildings.

“Given the proliferation of housing developments and the many firms creaming sizeable profits from developments on the outskirts of the city, perhaps some of their section 75 planning gains obligations should be directed to repairs and dilapidations in our older tenement buildings.”

It also offers free services to track down absent owners and help residents to apply to the council to cover missing shares.

The scheme replaced the statutory repair system which allowed the council to force homeowners to make repairs but became mired in scandal.

Some homeowners complained of overcharging, while others of unnecessary and poor quality work - leading to the scheme being suspended in 2011.

“We are very hopeful that we will find a digital product to make life easier for tenement owners"

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, convener of the finance and resources committee, said: “It is the responsibility of all property owners to maintain the buildings they own.

“If anyone is concerned about loose masonry on their building, we’d strongly advise them to have a building condition survey carried out.

“Our Shared Repairs Team guide people through this process and our tenement toolkit offers step by step advice about how to maintain and repair your property properly.

“The Shared Repairs Team is doing a fantastic job and leading the way in Scotland and is a member of the Parliamentary Working Group on this issue.

“We’re the only local authority in Scotland to have introduced a lawful process to share absent owners’ details to lead owners.

“It helps take that financial and reputational risk away from us and allows the owners to get the work done themselves.

“We’re also constantly adding to our toolkit which is being used all the time by other local authorities across Scotland.

“Our Missing Shares Scheme is so successful that to the end of September this year, we were involved in £1.45m applications for works arranged privately.

“We’re also currently engaged in a Scottish Government Digital Directorate programme called CivTech 4.0, an exciting innovation project for the public sector using private sector technology companies.

“We are very hopeful that we will find a digital product to make life easier for tenement owners when organising shared repairs by next spring.”