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Guide to Shared Edinburgh Tenement Repairs & Maintenance

Edinburgh’s Victorian tenement buildings give the city the unique charm that makes it such a popular travel destination for visitors from around the world - and living in this city with not one, but two UNESCO world heritage sites is pretty magical.

That being said, the old age of our city’s buildings means they need continuous upkeep and regular repairs. Organising repairs in your building can certainly be challenging. You need to get in touch with every flat’s owner, come to an agreement on the required work and tradespeople to hire, as well as collecting payment from everyone. Especially in buildings with a large number of flats, this can cause many problems.

In this article, we’ll go through the basics of organising shared repairs in Edinburgh tenements as well as outlining the easier option: hiring a factoring service for your Edinburgh tenement maintenance.

What the City of Edinburgh Council can & can’t do for you

The council states that upkeep and repairs in your shared areas in and around your building are the shared responsibility of everyone who owns property in it.

The council offers the Edinburgh Shared Repairs Service for advice and can step in if you’re having issues collecting payment from everyone for repairs. However, they won’t organise repairs on your behalf, nor do they offer loans or grants for them. This includes stair lighting repairs, something they used to offer.

Getting everyone on board for shared repairs and upkeep

If something needs repairing in your building, the first thing you need to do is document the issue. Take photographs and use a building inspection checklist to assess the damage. You could also hire someone professional like a surveyor or a building contractor to carry out these checks for you. Even if you’ve not noticed anything in need of repairs, it’s good to carry out checks like this regularly.

Next, you’ll need to let everyone know about the issue. You could go door to door or organise an owners’ meeting to discuss the situation and vote on the best way forward. You’ll need more than 50% of the vote to take action on any shared repairs.

If you’re getting everyone together for this, make sure to take meeting minutes and pass these on to any owners who weren’t able to attend your meeting by posting them through the door if you can’t get in touch with them in any other way.

Keeping your common areas clear and tidy is also part of your maintenance obligations as a flat owner within a tenement. You could establish a cleaning rota where each flat takes care of sweeping and mopping the staircase and removing any rubbish from this and other common areas including the garden.

Alternatively, you could hire a factor to do this work for you. There are a number of Edinburgh stair management companies, and as with any other contractors, this option requires the motion being passed by a majority vote and everyone paying their share of the costs.

Finding trustworthy tradespeople & collecting money

Edinburgh Council can’t recommend any specific contractors for your repairs, so you need to find these on your own.

It’s always recommended that you get a couple of quotes in writing, detailing the scope of the work as well as who’ll be carrying it out and when, and who to contact with any issues. The price quoted here shouldn’t change unless they get your agreement in writing. Make sure the quoted price also includes VAT.

Some places to find good tradespeople for tenement repairs include the Edinburgh Trusted Trader website and the Federation of Master Builders. The former is supported by the council as well as Police Scotland, while the latter is a trade society whose members are independently inspected.

You’ll usually have to have the whole amount needed for repairs together before the work starts. However, if it’s vital that work goes ahead quickly, you might need to take the plunge once most of the funding is in place. In this situation, the owners can choose to accept the extra cost of a missing share, absorbing the cost or going through a debt recovery action to collect outstanding payments. The council can help you with this.

If the repairs come to more than £100 per person for a one-off piece of work or £200 over 12 months, you’ll need to set up a separate bank account for this money. This will require two signatures and someone being appointed treasurer.

Edinburgh tenement management - the simple option

Appointing a factoring business to take care of your tenement’s communal areas is by far the easiest option when it comes to communal repairs and maintenance. Not only does this mean your stairway is cleaned regularly, but they’ll also make sure everything is in working order and you’ll always have someone to call when communal building issues crop up.

Edinburgh Block Management also carry out regular building visits (RBV’s) to ensure communal areas are in good shape, safe, clean and in good condition. Any communal maintenance requiring attention will be raised with owners following a visit.

How shared repairs work with Edinburgh Block Management

If, for example, your building’s main door is old and in poor condition, letting in drafts and posing a security risk, with Edinburgh Block Management, you’d get in touch with us and we’d raise the topic with the other flat and business owners in your building. An invite would then be sent to owners via an online poll to vote for the work to be carried out.

If there's a majority agreement to proceed, we would then gather a number of quotes on your behalf and have everyone vote on their preferred contractor. We would then organise everything with your chosen contractor and collect money from everyone before instructing the contractor. All you need to do is make that initial phone call to us - we’ll handle the rest.

Communal repairs are instructed on your behalf with a majority decision, and Edinburgh Block Management will facilitate your repairs on your instruction. This is so you know when to expect a bill - with no surprise charges to catch you out!

When you hire Edinburgh Block Management as your factor, you’ll reap all these benefits as well as regular stair cleaning plus roof and lighting maintenance at no extra cost. This way, all you’ll ever have to do is pay your annual factoring charge and get in touch with us if you need any support with communal repairs, maintenance or building issues.

You can read more about our stair maintenance in Edinburgh and what our factoring packages include over on our pricing page.

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