How to deal with uncooperative owners

Where essential repairs are concerned, the law is helpful in dealing with owners who won’t play their part. But there are things that can be done before you need to resort to legal action. Working together with other owners can make the process more bearable.

1. Don’t give them an excuse – use proper procedures to make decisions:

  • Make decisions at well attended owners meetings or
  • Contact all owners individually.
  • If you can’t get owners in person, you can notify the owner or their agent/solicitor by post, fax or email.

2. Track down absentee owners using the Land Registers or, if the flat is rented, the Register of Landlords held by your local council. If you still can’t trace the owner, you can post repair notices through their letterbox addressed to ‘The Owner.’

3. When a majority of owners make a decision about maintenance, tell other owners immediately and give them 28 days notice to appeal to the Sheriff Court about the decision. (The Sheriff can overturn any decision he or she decides is not in the interests of all of the owners, or is unfairly prejudicial to one or more owners.)

4. Find a mediator – A lot of disagreements can be sorted out by a neutral party, such as a property manager or a professional mediator.

5. Failing mediation, the Sheriff Court is the final decision- maker on all aspects of tenement management.

6. You can ask the council to use their compulsory repair powers such as work notices and maintenance orders. But they may not always be able to help.

7. If essential repairs are the issue, such as a roof repair or other repairs to common property – do the work and charge the other owners. If they refuse to pay, take them to the Sherriff Court or Small Claims Court. See taking Legal Action.

8. If the owner is a landlord, ask your solicitor about arresting rents.

9. If an owner goes bankrupt or can’t be traced, you and other owners will have to cover that person’s share of the costs equally. It may be possible to recover these costs at a later date if the flat has a value or if there are any traceable assets. – seek legal advice to find out how to do this.

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