New housing repairs website launched to save homeowners ‘hundreds of millions’

Link_Rutherglen_kirkwood_st_tenementsA major new free website designed to help private flat owners carry out repairs to their shared properties has been launched by housing minister Kevin Stewart MSP at an event in Glasgow today.

Written by Annie Flint and John Gilbert, the authors of the acclaimed Tenement Handbook originally published by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) over 20 years ago, the Under One Roof site contains over 100 articles on flat owners’ legal responsibilities towards their co-owners and over 70 technical information articles that enable owners to identify repair problems and understand quotations from builders.

The site has over 100, specially commissioned, drawings, 200 photographs and a Repair Symptoms Checker to help owners pin down what is affecting their building’s health. Downloadable model letters will make the whole process easier for owners. Advice on dealing with owners who refuse to participate in critical repairs is also provided.

This site is for owners of all types and ages of shared residential properties and their advisers. It will help owners of: traditional stone tenements, newly built apartment blocks, ex local authority tenements, four-in-a-blocks and converted houses.

Advisers who will also benefit are: property managers in all sectors, architects, surveyors, community organisations and advice workers.

Kevin Stewart MSP said: “When you are a flat owner, it can be hard to know where to start when repairs or the maintenance of communal areas like closes and roofs are needed.

“Under One Roof is a great new tool that will help home owners understand their obligations when it comes to property and shared spaces and provide free and impartial advice.”

Iain Connelly, chair of the Under One Roof Steering Group, said: “This site, which gives advice to owners on, sometimes vital, repairs and on establishing good maintenance regimes, has the potential to save owners very significant sums, amounting, over time, to hundreds of millions of pounds. It will also help prevent acrimony and heartache. This is a very important initiative for Scotland.

“Having access to this information will make a real difference by helping properties from falling into disrepair and will lead to better maintained, good quality and warm homes for everyone.”

Councillor Redmond, Glasgow City Council’s executive member for jobs, business and investment, added: “I am very pleased that Glasgow City Council is giving its backing to this extremely worthwhile resource. As Glasgow’s Factoring Commission discovered, there’s a real thirst among owners for authoritative information that helps with practical decision making. The vast majority of owners are constructive in the way they manage their property and are simply looking for best way to fulfil their responsibilities. Owners know that the bottom line is that it’s in their interests to look after their property.

“The Under One Roof website offers a single, reliable source of information that will point owners in the right direction and ultimately help to improve the standard of homes and other properties across the country.”

David Bookbinder, director of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations, said the Forum sees the new website as part of the growing profile of the crucial importance of tackling poor privately owned tenements.

He added: “Tenement blocks across Scotland are in deteriorating condition and need a joint approach between owners, factoring bodies and local authorities. Good long term factoring arrangements are an essential element of tenemental improvement work.

“On top of the website’s value for people who don’t have a factor or have a very poor factor, it will also benefit housing associations which are experienced factors. It’s in the interests of associations that owners understand not only the factor’s responsibilities but also their own rights and responsibilities. There will be situations where Under One Roof can help owners enforce their rights, and other situations where the website will clarify to owners that what the factor is doing or asking for is entirely normal and reasonable.”

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