Condition of Scottish tenements at 'cliff-edge'

Residential building in Glasgow, Scotland. Image copyright Getty Images

A report has warned that the condition of many Scottish tenements is on a "cliff-edge".

A Scottish Parliament working group on tenement maintenance has made a number of recommendations on how to address the problem.

These include inspections every five years and creating a communal tenement "pension" fund for future repairs.

The interim report also calls for the compulsory establishment of owners' associations.

The working group, comprising MSPs and housing and building experts, will publish a further report in the summer.

'Critical and urgent'

The group's convener, Graham Simpson MSP, said nearly a fifth of the country's housing dated from pre-1919.

He said 68% of those 467,000 homes had "disrepair to critical elements", and 36% had "critical and urgent" repair needs.

"Many of these are tenements and they are at a condition cliff-edge," he said.

"A report to Glasgow councillors last year highlighted that repair bills to some blocks reached well into six figures - sums that are simply unaffordable to most people."

Image copyright Getty Images

The five-yearly inspections recommended by the group would be carried out by an architect or chartered surveyor. They would draw up a report which would be made available to existing or prospective owners and tenants, neighbours and policy-makers.

Inspectors would report on the condition of the building, any expenditure needed to reach standards, and any ongoing maintenance needed.

The working group's report said this would be "more cost-effective", would supplement home reports for buyers and "provide a warning to prospective tenants who might otherwise find themselves in substandard buildings".

A further recommendation is the compulsory introduction of "sinking funds", described as a "pension for the building", involving regular affordable payments into a pot for future major expenditure.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: "The maintenance of common property is an important issue and owners in tenements, both homeowners and landlords, need to fully accept their responsibilities for maintaining their property."

Hew Edgar, of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said it was "imperative" to tackle the condition of Scotland's tenements.