There is a motion discussing Maintenance of Tenement Communal Property next week in parliament which asks that “the government should review the situation and consider any legislative changes, new initiatives, enhanced use of existing rules and/or further action by local authorities that could facilitate improved upkeep of Scheme Property.” I couldn’t agree more as I’ve written several times about the problems my tenement has here. In summary we have 11 flats in the tenement, 8 of them rented out, and nobody besides me, not one person, will look at the property to ensure it is maintained. They won’t communicate with their neighbours to discuss the communal property. Some examples from 2017:
I took Findholm to a council HMO licence panel to object to them getting a licence for a job they were not doing. I explained how they had done unilateral incomplete repairs when they had an immediate leak and how this had left cement blocking the gutter and the damn in the attic continued because of the incomplete nature of their repair. I explained how they had never communicated with their neighbours about this except in response to my questions. The council said they had to organise a stair meeting. This they failed to do until I told them and guided them through how to do it. At the stair meeting they said they were just here to help us organise and everyone else would know better how to maintain the property than them. They did have a quote to replace the whole roof which would have cost a fortune and would not have fixed the leaks in the chimney stacks. They had never bothered to look at the roof and seemed surprised that I should expect them to have done so. I organised these repairs and completed the task they had chosen not to do. The council passed Findholm’s HMO licence without question, licensing them to do a job they had not done.
I organised a second set of repairs for a blocked communal drain pipe. Graeme Inglis is another landlord who has never once communicated with his neighbours or done any maintainance. When payment was due he kicked out the single mother and her child from his flat and sold it. His agent, Dick Rudkin, sent only terse e-mails asking not to be communicated with and with a non-functional e-mail address for the owner. The money did come through after the deadline so someone had been receiving my e-mails or letters but not returned with a single word of communication.
In August one of the owners/landlords reported water ingress in a window in his flat, this means the property clearly doesn’t meet the Repairing Standard and is illegal to rent out. Already busy with the second communal repair I was organising for the year I asked if anyone could help him and got zero reply. When I asked people individually they were all impolite and made me sound unreasonable for expecting them to do their jobs. Neil Baxter said he’d be out the country until December, eventually asked his agent Braemore Lettings to send “a contractor”, nothing more has been heard from them even answers to simple queries like what the contractor was contracted to do. Owner Morag Bramwell called me aggressive for asking when she would look at it. And Colin Pretty, agent to a flat for Hamish and Julie Middleton did eventually look at it then refused to discuss it with me or any of the neighours saying I’d “be waiting a very long time” if I expected him to do his job. Nothing has happened here and the property is being rented out illegally but all the landlords.
This is just from the last year. None of the owners or their agents seem willing or capable of looking at the property, discussing it with their neighbours or helping with repairs. It’s their jobs to do so or it’s their homes to live in but they are not interested and there’s no means to convince them to do it. None of them are fit and proper to be landlords but the set up of the law, licensing and the culture of cheap mortgage money during the last Labour government means they are encouraged to take on jobs they do not do. Renters are not interested in problems which will occur several years down the line, it’s not worth the hassle to them.
So it needs a requirement on owners and agents that they will look at the property and discuss it with co-owners at least annually. If they are not able to walk up a ladder and look they should not be allowed to rent property. It needs co-owners to be able to take owners to housing tribunals in the way renters already can. And it needs councils to give a damn enough that agents and owners who do not do the basics of their jobs are removed them from the landlord register.