A decade ago someone from Edinburgh Council’s Statutory Repairs body looked at the back wall of the tenement flat I live in and pointed out a bunch of repairs to the stonework that needed fixed. They wouldn’t fix them because it wasn’t a danger to the public, instead they did the equivalent repairs to the front which cost about £15000.
Earlier this year one of my more useful neighbours had got some repairs done to the roof and the scaffold meant we could do these repairs easily. So I got the quote and got a majority of neighbours to agree to it and the repairs were done. It was a patch-up job with cement rather than whole new stones so the cost was less than £3000. Do I get thanks and prompt payment from all the owners who’s property I have fixed and in many cases who have taken on the job of maintaining the property? Let’s count, out of my 10 neighbours I had:
3 who paid and said thanks
3 who silently paid at the last minute after sending grumpy sounding e-mails
1 who spent a month saying his agent would pay while his agent spent a month saying they hadn’t heard from him and who eventually paid late
2 who paid late after I had to call a meeting with them at which they complained about everything they could think of but nothing relevant to payment of these repairs
1 who paid silently at the last minute just before I was about to take him to court
This last chap is Robert Fyfe who came to me before he bought the flat from property shark Charles Lovatt who sold his flat off quick while blocking the repairs that needed doing so he didn’t have to pay. I told Robert about all the repairs that needed done and he bought the flat anyway. Companies House shows a string of failed businesses of his and he seems to have moved into being yet another property shark and is now renting out this flat. To rent it out you would need to do a property survey before the start of the rental to ensure the building complied with the Repairing Standard so assuming he’s complying with the law he will be more than aware of what repairs needed doing. On sending the bill he complained that I had “taken the lead” in this, which is true enough and that he would be speaking to his lawyer (which is just his sister). When no payment arrived I spoke to his tenant and got a grumpy e-mail from Robert saying that I shouldn’t ever speak to his tenant, I replied that I would speak to my neighbours whenever I liked. I tracked him down at another property he was selling and asked why he hadn’t paid, he just said it was “in the hands of my lawyer”. I gave him two weeks to pay before I would fill in court papers and sure enough today I checked and he has paid without thanking or informing me and without the interest that is due on late payments.
I’m exhausted. We live in a society where we can’t even look after the buildings we own and share. Those who do get hassled and left out of pocket for it.
The law needs changed to make owners responsible to their neighbours for maintenance and to make landlords policed by the council as part of their registration. The sense of self entitlement is too big for neighbourly repairs to work otherwise.