All owners in a tenement are usually jointly responsible for keeping common areas in good condition, but this isn't always the case.
To find out what areas you're responsible for, you can check your title deeds. These should tell you:
- about your responsibilities for maintaining common areas
- how decisions about maintaining common areas should be taken
- how maintenance costs should be split between owners
- how to pay these costs
These conditions are known as 'real burdens'. They're part of the terms of owning your flat, and were agreed when you bought it.
If you can't find your title deeds, you can get a copy from the Registers of Scotland, the solicitor who did the conveyancing when you bought the flat, or your mortgage lender.
Most of your legal rights and responsibilities for common areas only count when 'maintenance' is being carried out.
- repairs and replacement
- painting and other routine work
- the day-to-day running of the tenement
- the reinstatement of part of the tenement
Maintenance doesn't mean:
- making improvements (unless it's part of maintenance work, like replacing a broken door with one with a better lock)
- redecorating privately owned areas (unless they're damaged during work on a common area)
Sometimes a group of owners may decide to hire someone to take care of the maintenance and repair responsibilities for them.
These are called property factors (sometimes called property managers), and for a fee they can:
- arrange for annual inspections of the tenement and deal with any problems the inspection reveals
- give price estimates for one-off maintenance and repair work, ask if the owners want to go ahead with it, then set it up if they do
- other services, like organising common insurance for the building or contracts for lifts, boilers and gardeners
Find out more information on property factors.