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The Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011 was passed as law by the Scottish Parliament in March 2011 and it came into force on 1 October 2012.

The law was developed to regulate property factors and provide a more transparent relationship between them and the homeowners. It aims to protect homeowners by providing minimum standards for property factors. It applies to all residential property and land managers whether they are private sector businesses, local authorities or housing associations.

The Act requires registration of all property factors including private businesses, housing associations and local authorities. West Dunbartonshire Council is registered as it provides factoring services to a number of homeowner properties which are within buildings whereby the Council still retain a common interest.  The Councils registration number is PF000334.

The Council has been factoring many properties since they were sold to the homeowner, primarily because the Council retains ownership of the common parts of the building and has a duty to protect the condition of its housing stock, where there are still Council tenants in the block.

The main group of people affected by this new service are approximately 6,500 homeowners who live in flats or houses which were bought from the Council, but only where there are common or shared parts.

As a property factor, the Council is required to provide any factored property owner with a copy of the Written Statement of Services. Copies are available to homeowners on request.

What is a Property Factor?

A property factor is an organisation appointed to maintain or manage the maintenance of common property for residential use. This might be the general fabric of a building such as the roof, exterior walls or guttering.  The property factor will establish the cost that each person is responsible for, arrange the necessary repairs and issue a bill to each owner for their share.

What are property factoring services?

Services received by homeowners, which can include the management and maintenance of common parts of properties used for residential purposes. This includes regular planned maintenance of the common parts of the property and organising and carrying out repairs to major components such as the roof, chimney, exterior walls and foundations.

What is the Property Factors Act?

The Act creates a legal framework designed to protect homeowners who receive property factoring services.

The Act has three main elements:

  • A compulsory register of all property factors operating in Scotland
  • A code of conduct that sets out minimum standards of practice with which all registered property factors must comply
  • Housing and Property Chamber which homeowners will be able to apply to if they believe their factor has failed to comply with the code of conduct or otherwise failed to carry out their duties.

Who will be affected by the Act?

  • Homeowners who are required to have a property factor if it is stated in their title deed. The Council does not have any responsibility or control over private property factors.
  • Homeowners who have entered into a voluntary agreement with a private factor to factor their land or property. The Council has no responsibility over these relationships.
  • Homeowners who have purchased their property under the Right to Buy system, or who have subsequently acquired a former Council or Housing Association property.

Through the title conditions the Council or Housing Association may have identified themselves as factors and reserved the right to carry out works whilst there are still tenants in the block. The Council would therefore be a property factor.

Which homeowners are factored by West Dunbartonshire Council?

Homeowners who have bought their property from the Council under the Right to Buy legislation, or who have subsequently acquired a former Council property, and there are common areas within the block where part of the ownership is retained by the Council. This could extend to common stairs, drying greens, paths, fences, drains, chimneys and roofs, however this list is not exhaustive.

This also includes Homeowners in fully sold blocks of flats where they have elected to retain the Council as factor.

How will homeowners be notified that they are factored by the Council?

Homeowners being factored by the Council will receive information advising them of the details of the service.

What is the Written Statement of Services?

Under the code of conduct for factors they are required to provide a statement of services to each homeowner being factored. The statement of services sets out the terms, conditions and service standards of the factoring arrangement.

How many homeowners may be affected by this Act?

Approximately 6,500 properties previously owned by the Council are affected by the new legislation.

Will there be a financial impact for those being factored by the Council?

Yes, necessary reactive/planned repairs and maintenance will be carried out and recharged the appropriate share of the cost, as set out in their title deeds. This would apply to any repair and maintenance work required to the building in respect of any common parts. This system of recharging has been in operation for some time.

Is there a financial threshold for arranging necessary common repairs?

No, as long as the Council still retain ownership of at least one property in the block we can carry out all necessary common repairs without first seeking the permission of homeowners.

If a block is fully owner occupied but have retained the Council as factor we can only carry out necessary repair work to the value of £500 per share without first seeking permission from all of the homeowners.

What will the Council pay towards the service?

The Council has an obligation to pay the relevant proportion of communal repair costs associated with Council owned properties.

Can homeowners arrange communal repairs to a block themselves?

No, the Council as Manager of your common block has the authority to arrange all necessary common repairs.

How do I report a communal repair?

It is your responsibility to report common repairs when you first become aware of them.  You can report a repair involving common parts to us by telephoning us on Freephone 0800-073-8708.  You can also report a common repair on your PC or mobile phone although this method of reporting a repair should not be used for reporting emergency repairs.  To report emergency repairs which occur outwith normal office hours, these should be reported by telephoning us on Freephone 0800-197-1004.

Does the Council have timescales they need to adhere to under the Act?

Yes, we need to adhere to the timescales we commit to within the Written Statement of Services which are as follows.

Common Repairs:

  • Emergency repairs should be completed within 24 hours of notification
  • Urgent repairs should be completed within 7 days of notification
  • Necessary repairs should be completed within 40 days of notification

There may be occasions due to unforeseen weather, availability of goods, materials or specialist labour where it is not possible to achieve the above timescales however we must keep homeowners informed of our progress.

Communication Arrangements:

Homeowner enquiries will be responded to on the same day to let them know how long it will take to answer their enquiry and final responses will be issued within 10 working days.  If for any reason we are unable to provide a final response within 10 working days we will provide an update at least every 5 working days.

What happens if the Council fail to carry out its duties as a property factor?

If a homeowner considers the Council has failed to carry out its duties as a factor or has failed to comply with the code of conduct, they can make an application to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland however before doing this they would need to have notified the Council in writing of the reasons why they consider it has failed to carry out its factoring duties and would have to have first exhausted the Councils own complaints process.

What should I do if I sell my flat?

If you sell your property, your solicitor should notify the Sold Property team of the change of owner as soon as you know who it will be.  We will then calculate any outstanding charges and send you or your solicitor a final account.