Owning a flat in a shared property, such as a tenement or block of flats can bring advantages. But it also brings with it a shared responsibility for upkeep of common areas, such as roofs and stairwells. Under normal circumstances this can be considerably less than the cost of upkeep for a detached property, but it all depends on every owner committing to contribute their portion of any bills for repairs or maintenance.
When costly repairs are needed to shared areas, it just needs one owner to be uncontactable, unwilling or unable to pay, for essential work to stall, leaving others unable to keep their homes wind and watertight and the fabric of the building in good repair.
For many older buildings, taken to the extreme, this situation can lead to devaluation of property values, deterioration and even abandonment, adding to the tally of semi derelict buildings and leaving owners in uninhabitable and unsaleable properties.
At the same time, as the demand for High Street retail units diminishes, more and more empty shop units are needing to find a new purpose, but the costs and logistics of changing use of a building from business to residential can put people off trying to create new homes in the town centre.
Thankfully East Ayrshire Council has launched two new schemes to help property owners overcome these obstacles, and it’s hoped they will go a long way to helping tidy up our towns and villages and make best use of existing buildings by helping keep them in a good state of repair.
The first is “Missing shares” backed up by a provision in Section 50 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 which allows a majority of owners in a shared property to apply to the local authority to pay the missing costs of repairs as long as they meet certain conditions.
Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing and Communities explains: “Missing shares is a great scheme which is giving beleaguered property owners a way forward where repairs are badly needed but for whatever reason they can’t get 100% agreement from fellow owners to pay their shares of the bill.
“It can be incredibly frustrating when most people in a building agree work needs to be done but they can’t move forward until the money is in place. By applying to us, they can clear the logjam, and get the work done knowing that East Ayrshire Council will then pursue the owner. Having spoken to the first owners who’ve gone through this process successfully, the fact that we’ve helped them out has brought great relief. At the same time it’s better for the whole community if we can halt a cycle of deterioration with a relatively simple intervention and keep our buildings useful and fit for purpose for the benefit of all.”
The second scheme is aimed at owners of commercial properties. It gives them grant funding to meet some of the costs of change of use of a building from commercial to residential use.
Elena Whitham says:”Again this scheme is a big help, one of many measures we’re taking to try and reduce the number of empty and derelict buildings across our area. As retail and living trends change, this is a great way for people to repurpose shop units and provide convenient, eco friendly, town centre accommodation.
“Above all my message to anyone with issues with their properties would be to come and talk to us. Where buildings are at risk we can offer a range of advice, assistance and grants such as our empty homes loans, council tax discounts, private landlord advice, empty home advice and these two new schemes we’re here to help. For details visit east-ayrshire.gov.uk/emptyhomes
Private Sector Housing Unit
East Ayrshire Council
Telephone: 01563 554584
Telephone: 01563 554560
Telephone: 01563 554583 (Empty Homes Officer)
A missing share is where the majority of owners in a tenement agree to a common plan of works however one owner is unwilling or unable to pay their share. The missing share scheme allows East Ayrshire Council (under certain conditions) to pay the missing amount and recharge the missing owner thus allowing the work to commence.
Section 50 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 allows the majority of owners to request the Local Authority to pay missing shares if:
Before East Ayrshire Council agrees to pay these missing shares, the Council has to be satisfied that the work is reasonable and that all owners have been fully informed.
Please note if work has commenced prior to approaching the Council, assistance through Section 50 (missing Shares) will not be available. Assistance is not available in retrospect.
On completion of the works, owners must provide a copy of the Completion Certificate along with authenticated receipts to demonstrate that the money has been used for its original intention. Thereafter, East Ayrshire Council (EAC) will, in due course, arrange to issue an invoice to the non-participating owner(s) for the amount paid by EAC into the maintenance account, plus an additional charge of 15% of the amount deposited, to cover the legal, financial and administrative expenses.
Payment of Missing Shares (Section 50 Housing (Scotland) Act 2006)
Where the majority of owners within a property in common ownership agree to undertake common repair/maintenance works, the Council may pay the missing shares of the minority who are unwilling or unable to participate (with an individual share being above £300 which may be subject to change).
Monies will be paid into a maintenance account to facilitate the works and the Council will subsequently pursue these owners for recovery of their full share of the costs on completion of the works plus an additional charge of 15% to cover all professional, administrative and legal expenses.”
What is a missing share?
Where an owner is not able to fund their share of the cost of common works being carried out to their property, the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 allows the Council to consider paying a ‘missing share’.
Payment is at the Council’s discretion and will be subject to criteria including the extent and scale of disrepair and available resources.
Missing shares are only paid for common repairs i.e. where title deeds show that the owners of two or more properties are responsible for repairs to the common parts of the block e.g. four in a block of flats or tenement flats.
A majority of owners must agree to the work being carried out and must show that certain procedures for agreeing to and paying for works have been followed before an application for a ‘missing share’ can be submitted to the Council.
The Council can consider payment of a missing share where an owner: