Our weekly Real Estate blog addresses a range of property issues for homeowners, landlords and tenants in Scotland.
As with all ageing buildings, tenements will need repairs carried out on their roofs from time to time. But when the building is housing a number of flats – and you own the property on the top floor, who exactly is responsible for covering the cost?
Firstly, it’s worth checking the property’s title deeds. These may explain how the tenement is to be managed and what areas a homeowner is responsible for maintaining. For a newly built tenement, this will likely be clarified in a document called a Deed of Conditions. Title deeds may provide that you have a joint obligation with the other flat owners to maintain the roof. In this case, your neighbours within the tenement would have to contribute to repair costs. Provision for how the cost is to be divided may also be set out.
If your title deeds do not help, check the rules provided by the Tenement Management Scheme (TMS). The TMS sets out the default rules for decision-making and liability for costs in tenement buildings – but these rules will only apply where the title deeds are silent or incomplete on repairs and maintenance issues.
Under the TMS, the roof is regarded as “Scheme Property” and has to be maintained by every flat in the tenement equally, unless the floor area of the largest flat is more than one and a half times greater than that of the smallest. In that case, the cost should be divided in proportion to respective floor areas.
In relation to the roof, a decision to complete repairs will be made if a simple majority of votes allocated decides in favour of repairs. Each flat in the tenement is allocated one vote only.
You should arrange a meeting with other flat owners to hold a vote, giving at least 48 hours’ notice. If you do not hold a meeting then you must consult each flat individually and gather their votes. If you cannot contact everyone – e.g. an owner is absent – then you may proceed with the vote. If a decision is made you must update any flat owners not present at the meeting as soon as possible.
If the repairs are needed urgently – i.e. damage to the roof could cause harm to other parts of the tenement (including your flat) or is a threat to health and safety – you may instruct works without holding a vote. The other flat owners will all still have to contribute to the cost.
Nav Mesbah is a trainee lawyer in Brodies’ real estate practice.
On September 3, 2019