Warning: bitchy blog post…
In Edinburgh tenement flats are communally owned. The stair, outside wall, drains, roof and garden and all owned and maintained equally by every flat. There’s no factor or English style freeholder to take care of it. I really like the spirit of this, everyone should look after their own property and share the effort. In practice it ends up as a tragedy of the commons. Nobody bothers to maintain anything and so the garden goes to ruin and the roof and walls start to fall apart. When I was ill the winter before last I stopped sweeping the stairwell. Before long the chip packets started to build up and you had to trample through the cigarette ends to get out. Nobody has much of a community spirit alas, tenants just expect their landlord to do cleaning but most of the flats are owned by absentee landlords who couldn’t care about the state as long as the rent is coming in. Eventually the only other owner-occupier in the stair did sort out the messy stairwell, by calling a company to do it and charge everyone for cleaning. Better than nothing I suppose.
Last year I got a grumpy letter from one of my absentee-landlord neighbours saying repairs needed to be done and could we please agree to doing them. As the only person in the stair who takes and interest in his own home I got asked to show around the roofers who had been called out to give a quote, not easy when you have severe head trauma. After a while the absentee-landlord said we should just agree to the first quote and everyone else agreed but it was up to me to point out the quote was for entirely the wrong work. So I had to take up the task and find the missing quote from a roofer and hassle all my neighbours into agreeing to it. Our nice Scottish Parliament has passed a tenement act which means decisions can be taken by a majority vote so I got that and proceeded. Nobody else offered to help and I even got one neighbour saying “why don’t you just call X”, which made me grumpy “because I have a brain injury, why don’t you” was my reply.
Work done I had to hassle all my neighbours for money. Some paid quickly, some sent cheques (what millenium is this?) and some had to be hassled a few times before paying in cash. Which all left one – Brian Porteous. This absentee landlord is the worst sort, a product of the Blair government where energy was best put into not doing useful things but mortgaging the future to bring in the money quick. He never took part at all in the discussions about the repairs and there was a loud silence from him. He has set himself up as a company called BJP Properties and rented out the flat underneath mine through his son’s company Cruz Property Management. He is also the director of Berwick Rangers Football Club. After not getting a reply I stopped off at his house, it has a large electric gate that can’t be opened except with the right remote key. It has a fountain and a gnome in the front garden. Next door lives his son, Callum Porteous who had a Cruz Property Management van in the driveway. Despite owning a property management company he had never got back to me once about the repairs. Callum doesn’t have an electric gate on his house so I could walk into that one and through the gate between them to his dad’s house to knock on the door. No reply alas so I had to write a letter and put it through the post box. A few days later with no reply I posted a letter. Then at last a reply, Callum e-mailed to say he was no longer the agent and this had nothing to do with him. I replied pointing out he was the registered agent on the government database and I asked he walk next door to the owner to tell him to pay up. That even got a reply from the main man Brian Porteous. He said he’d never agreed to any repairs and I’d need to send him the paperwork and I should sue him if I wanted to.
So after many follow up e-mails and phone calls with no reply I went to the Sheriff court today to file a small claims summons. It’ll be interesting to see if he shows up to it or not.
It makes me wonder in what possible way it’s socially acceptable to own a property company and not look after the property. Brain Porteous should be prohibited from being a company director and Callum Porteous should find an economically useful business to work in.by