Responsibilities and the Law

Examples of poor condition

Owners Responsibilities

You are legally required to keep your building in good order. The relevant Act is the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006.

The owners of listed buildings are not exempt from this and are equally responsible for the repair and maintenance of their property.

Local authorities have various powers which they can use to help to ensure the future of the listed buildings in their areas.

The Law

The main thing to remember is that it is an offence to carry out works to a listed property or in a conservation area without the necessary consents. Unauthorised works are liable to a fine of up to £50,000, and even imprisonment. It is always best to contact us before carrying out any works.  If you are buying a property, you become liable for any unauthorised works already completed so make sure you check all the correct permissions have been obtained or can be obtained.

Statutory Notices for Common Repairs Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

When owners cannot agree on a course of action to carry out works to the common parts of a building they are able to approach the Council for assistance.  The Council can serve a statutory notice for common repairs if there are clear problems with the fabric of a property and owners are unable to decide on a remedy. The notice will identify what repairs are necessary and give a 21 day period for an agreement to be reached between the tenants. Failing this the council can organise the repairs, draft a specification for the work and employ a contractor. The owners will be responsible for all the costs of the work and the costs that the council has accrued when organising the works. (If the works are so severe that urgent repairs are required, then the council can begin organising the works and issue a retrospective notice).  

Maintenance Order, The Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

This requires the owners of a property to ensure the maintenance of a building to a reasonable standard and can last as long as 5 years.  Owners will be jointly responsible for this, and may be required to participate in a ‘Sink Fund’ whereby a small amount is paid each month by each of the owners into a joint account. When selling your flat this fund will be sold with the flat and should be reflected in the sale price.

Urgent works notice, The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997

Under section 49 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 Planning Authorities can undertake urgent works necessary for the preservation of an unoccupied listed building (or unused parts of an occupied listed building), provided that the owner is given notice of the intention. The cost of these urgent works can be reclaimed from the owner.

Compulsory Purchase Order

The Planning Authority can be authorised by Scottish Ministers to acquire listed buildings in poor repair through compulsory purchase. The authority must first serve a repairs notice. If the notice is not complied with, the planning authority may start compulsory purchase procedures.

Where a planning authority is satisfied that the building has been deliberately allowed to fall into disrepair for the purpose of justifying its demolition and the development or redevelopment of the site, the planning authority can apply to Scottish Ministers for a direction that only minimum compensation be paid on the compulsory acquisition.  There are several different pieces of legislation a planning authority can use to acquire property through compulsory purchase.

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