Ministers ponder law change to fix Scotland’s crumbling tenements

Both Glasgow and Edinburgh have high numbers of pre-1919 tenement flats. Picture: John Devlin
Both Glasgow and Edinburgh have high numbers of pre-1919 tenement flats. Picture: John Devlin
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Holyrood ministers are considering changes to the law which would ensure Scotland’s ageing tenement buildings can be repaired more urgently.

Legislative changes being weighed up include the creation of compulsory owners’ associations, mandatory building inspections every five years and a national reserve fund for repairs.

In the short term measures to support voluntary change will be taken forward, such as supporting the establishment of owners associations.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said the actions would help to safeguard Scotland’s tenements, ensuring they continue to provide good quality, safe, sustainable and affordable homes.

The announcement follows the publication of a report in June by the Scottish Parliamentary Working Group on Tenement Maintenance.

Group convener Graham Simpson MSP said in the report: “Nearly a fifth of all our housing is pre-1919 – that’s 467,000 homes.

“Sixty eight per cent of those have disrepair to critical elements and 36% have critical and urgent repair needs.

“Many of these are tenements and they are at a condition cliff-edge.

“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.”

Glasgow alone has 70,000 tenements which were built prior to 1919.

Mr Stewart said: “These measures reinforce our commitment to support tenement owners and protect such an important part of our national heritage.

“While tenements continue to provide good quality, safe, sustainable and affordable homes, this programme of support will help to ensure they are protected and preserved.

“Homeowners and landlords in tenements need to fully accept their shared responsibilities for the upkeep of their property to ensure all those living in tenements have good quality homes.”

Concerns about the rising cost of repairing Scotland’s tenements were flagged as far back as 2004, when a survey of Edinburgh’s 190,000 tenement flats found many were built with lowgrade sandstone that was in danger of erosion.