THE full extent of Edinburgh’s crumbling housing stock is laid bare for the first time today as a year of masonry falls is mapped across the city.
From Portobello to South Queensferry, Juniper Green to Granton, the list of 179 cases reported to the council in 2018 span the entire Capital.
On the second day of an Evening News investigation into the city’s crumbling buildings, we reveal major troublespots with nearly one in four classed as a risk to the public.
“It must be a cause for concern that these are just the incidents that the council knows about,” said Labour’s Edinburgh Southern MSP, Daniel Johnson.
“The true scale of the problem is undoubtedly larger and we have to treat this as the tip of the iceberg,” added Mr Johnson, who sat on a recent Holyrood working group on the issue.
READ MORE: 'Someone is going to be killed'
The list comprises most of the city’s major thoroughfares in both the New and Old Towns attracting hundreds of thousands of pedestrians.
They include Princes Street, High Street, Shandwick Place, Queensferry Road, Great Junction Street, North Bridge and South Bridge.
Some of these streets made up of tenements over 100 years old saw multiple collapses during the year - with three on the High Street alone.
Some days experienced multiple falls across the city centre - with storms and high winds the trigger to dislodge loose stonework.
On September 19 last year, there were six reports of falling masonry as Storm Ali battered the Capital.
Thousands of homes had power cut-off and travel was severely hit as the first storm of last year’s season brought winds of up to 100mph.
And it also brought two lots of masonry crashing down in Princes Street and further falls in Newton Street, Tolbooth Wynd, Ponton Street and Dalkeith Road - all on the same day.
Last September’s poor weather contributed to a total of 29 masonry falls reported in the Capital for the month - nearly one-a-day on average.
They also included three on September 11 - in West Montgomery Place, Haymarket Terrace and Barony Street.
There were six reported cases of stonework plummeting from buildings on June 14 last year as Storm Hector clattered into the Capital.
They included a slate blown from a roof in Dalry Road that hit a woman in her 40s and left her critical in hospital.
On the same day, debris was reported crashing from buildings in the Grassmarket, Dalkeith Road, Buccleuch Street, Orwell Terrace and Springvalley Gardens.
Of all last year's incidents, 43 of the 179 - or 24 percent - were classed as a potential danger to the public.
"What this points to is a critical matter of life and death"
“The issue of building maintenance is hugely important obviously because the quality of our housing is of vital importance to our quality of life,” said Mr Johnson.
“But also what this points to is a critical matter of life and death.
“The fact we’re seeing an increasing number of masonry falls should alarm us all because every one could result in a loss of life.”
The Holyrood cross-party working group came up with three radical recommendations - building inspections every five years, compulsory owners’ associations to take responsibility and reserve funds to pay for work.
“We need urgent action now to ensure all buildings are properly maintained,” added Mr Johnson.
“Which is currently why I’m doing my work in parliament and continuing to press the government to respond to our proposals to improve building maintenance,” he added.
Your questions answered
Q If a piece of masonry falls off my flat what should I do?
A If you are unsure if the building is safe or not, call the Council on 0131 529 6778 or an appropriately trained contractor of your choice. When you are satisfied the building has been made safe use the Council’s Tenement Toolkit which you can find at ww.edinburgh.gov.uk/tenementoolkit to help you get any repairs needed carried out.
Q How do I stop this from happening again/if I think my building is not safe
A The easiest way to get your building checked is to have a Building Condition Survey carried out. If this flags up any possible structural issues, the Surveyor or Architect may advise you to get further advice from a Structural Engineer.
Q If someone gets hurt by a piece of masonry falling from my flat, can I be sued?
A Yes. You have a legal obligation to repair and maintain your common property along with the other owners in your tenement under the Tenement (Scotland) Act 2004. The responsibility for injury to persons or property, caused by defects to a building, lies with the owners of the building.
Q Is there any grant money available to help me pay for it?
A If your building is listed or in the heritage site in Edinburgh there are some grants available from Edinburgh World Heritage Trust and Historic Environment Scotland, Further information is available from these organisations.
Q If my neighbours say they don’t want to pay for it to be fixed, what can I do?
A If you manage to get a majority decision to repair or maintain any of the communal (shared) property in your tenement, this is called a ‘scheme decision’ and is legally binding on all liable owners in your stair/tenement. If the minority of owners don’t or can’t pay, there are two options: the owners can jointly pay the shares and bring an action to the simple procedure court (if under £5000) to claim the money back OR
the owners can apply to the Council for a Missing Share. As long as the works have not started, the process has been followed correctly and the share is between £500 and £20,000. All details of the Missing Shares Scheme is at www.edinburgh.gov.uk /sharedrepairs
You can view the interactive map HERE