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Council assists private owners with essential housing repairs

28/08/15

Council assists private owners with essential housing repairs.

Aberdeen City Council is helping property owners make essential repairs to flatted buildings in an initiative that is improving the city's private housing stock.

The local authority can assist in situations where the majority of owners in a block are trying to complete works but there are a minority of owners who either cannot or will not contribute their share of costs.

Members of the Communities, Housing and Infrastructure Committee were given an update on the use of enforcement funding for maintenance of privately-owned buildings during 2014/15 at a meeting on Thursday (August 27).

The enforcement funding initiative, which was approved by councillors in August last year, helps owners complete common repairs and maintenance work.

The City Council can help to convene "stair meetings" with individual owners and also meet the costs of the reluctant owners if necessary to facilitate repairs in common areas such as roofs, gutters and stairwells.

So far, the City Council has committed 522,750, which has enabled works with a value of more than 2.9million to be carried out.

There is a further 778,850 set aside from the fund to assist the owners of 49 flats and shop units to participate in common repairs, which will have a total value of 2.9million.

In total, the City Council has earmarked about 1.3million. The upfront funding from the City Council is repaid by any private owner who has not paid their share.

Aberdeen City Council's Convener of Communities Housing & Infrastructure, Councillor Neil Cooney, said: "It is great to see the success of this initiative in helping to improve poor quality housing in the private sector.

"Property owners, particularly in shared tenement blocks, can often have difficulties in contacting other owners and reaching agreements, so our officers are providing an important service in bringing people together and assisting with repair work."

"It is essential that all owners in a tenement communicate with each other to ensure they maintain the property.

"They have made a significant investment when buying the property, carrying out ongoing maintenance helps protect this investment and the housing stock for the future."

"Anyone requiring further advice should contact the Private Sector Housing Unit in Marischal College."

The City Council has a statutory duty under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 to manage Below Tolerable Standard (BTS) housing in its area.

Where a tenement is in poor condition the City Council may issue a Work Notice to require owners to undertake essential works.

If the works do not then happen the Council can appoint an agent to organise the work and recover the costs from all owners who have failed to pay their share.

Councillors also agreed on Thursday to delegate authority to officers to sign a Notice of Potential Liability of costs as and when required.

This was agreed in light of a recent amendment to legislation under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014, which came into force on April 1 this year.

As part of the change, local authorities can register a Notice of Potential Liability against any flat where the council has met its owners' share of repair costs under the Tenements (Scotland) 2004 Act. The notice acts as a safeguard in the event that flats are put up for sale while common repair works are underway or in the pipeline.

As a co-owner in many cases, Aberdeen City Council would seek to use this notice on certain projects in order to protect is own interests.