Edinburgh repair scheme helps hundreds of tenement owners

The Council says they have helped around 500 people in the Capital
The Council says they have helped around 500 people in the Capital

HUNDREDS of tenement householders in Edinburgh have been helped by the replacement for the city’s troubled statutory repairs scheme since it was launched earlier this year, the city council said today.

The Shared Repair Service has enabled over £600,000 of work, carried out privately in 46 tenement buildings, and completed over £350,000 of repairs on behalf of owners in four tenements. The council said the service has helped around 500 people in all so far. And now a campaign has been launched to raise awareness.

Under the old scheme, the council could order a repair and if it was not carried out it could then appoint a contractor to do the work and the council would then recoup the cost from the owners.

The new scheme leaves the primary responsibility for maintenance of the property with the owners, but the council can advise and assist owners on working with their neighbours to agree on necessary repairs.

And if an owner in a tenement property is unable or unwilling to get involved, the council can in some cases cover the “missing share” so the works can go ahead – and the council will pursue the owner for the appropriate amount.

Sara Ferrier, who owns a property in a tenement in George Street, said the service had been a big help in getting the 11 owners in the block to work together over major roof repairs.

“Everybody agreed there should be a repair, but we had to agree how to split the bill – there were some really small units and huge big shops on the ground floor and it didn’t seem fair for those two types of property to pay the same.

“We were allocated a representative from the Shared Repair Service, who came to our meetings and advised us; they were copied in to all the papers.

“It allowed everyone to feel they were being listened to and meant there was someone neutral people could go to who did not have an interest in it. They can’t come in and do it – you still have to organise the repair – but it was a big help.

“There is an elderly lady on the top floor who has lived in that flat all her life. She was worried it was never going to be sorted out. So it’s a massive relief to her now it’s all done.”

Finance convener Alasdair Rankin said: “Storm Ophelia was a reminder to us all of the need to keep our property in good repair. The aim of the new service is to help and guide people to take care of their own properties, such as helping to set up stair meetings, explaining legislation and guiding towards trusted traders, all of which can help when speaking to or writing to your fellow owners.

“Whilst the relatively new Shared Repairs Service will only step in financially as a last resort, it is a necessary part of helping to maintain the built fabric of the city.”