Support for Edinburgh homeowners to repair crumbling tenements

Holyrood move after Evening News reveals shocking state of old homes

Saturday, 21st December 2019, 7:45 am
Experts have expressed concern over the state of Edinburgh's housing stock

MINISTERS are to offer support to homeowners looking after the Capital’s crumbling stock as new laws to protect tenements are considered.

Holyrood announced yesterday that measures to support voluntary change will be taken forward, such as supporting the establishment of owners associations.

Legislative changes being considered include compulsory owners’ associations, building inspections every five years and a national reserve fund for repairs.

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Shocking images emerge of Edinburgh's crumbling tenements

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “These measures reinforce our commitment to support tenement owners and protect such an important part of our national heritage.

“Whilst tenements continue to provide good quality, safe, sustainable and affordable homes, this programme of support will help to ensure they are protected and preserved.

“Homeowners and landlords in tenements need to fully accept their shared responsibilities for the upkeep of their property to ensure all those living in tenements have good quality homes.”

"You don’t know a stone is loose until you push it”

Earlier this month, the Evening News reported how safety experts were called out to 17 reports of falling masonry in a single day as Storm Brendan battered the Capital.

And in October, our special investigation revealed the full frightening scale of Edinburgh’s old and crumbling tenements.

Figures released under freedom of information laws show there were 179 reports of falling masonry to the city council last year - equivalent to one almost every other day.

The number has dramatically risen in the last decade, from just 33 in 2008, with nearly 1,000 cases in total since.

Of those, a staggering one in three (33 per cent) posed a risk to public health and safety needing work to make the building safe.

A far-reaching probe lasting more than a year by a cross-party working group at Holyrood to look at the issue nationally reported back with sobering findings in June.

The group found that tenements account for 584,000 of properties in Scotland – equating to Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the country’s total housing stock.

Nearly a third (29 percent) of tenements were built over 100 years ago and more than two-thirds of these (68 percent) are classed as in “critical disrepair”.

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

Stonemason Stewart Inkster, 35, said of yesterday’s announcement: “It’s a good thing but one of the things that needs to be done is inspections on the roof, not just from ground level.

“I’m a big believer you need to physically inspect stuff. I’ve seen home reports that say a chimney is fine when it isn’t. You don’t know a stone is loose until you push it.”