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Statutory Repairs Notices when Selling


What is a statutory repairs notice?

A statutory repairs notice is a notice issued by the Edinburgh Council on the owners of property (usually flats in a traditional tenement) calling upon the owners to carry out repairs to the property.

How they used to work

Taking as an example the typical situation of a roof repair required for a traditional tenement of flats found all over Edinburgh, if you were the owner of a top floor flat and suffering water coming into your flat from a leaking roof, you would try to get the owners of the other flats in the tenement to agree to get the roof repair carried out and share the cost of this between them all.

As you can imagine, that was and still is often quite difficult. So in that situation, the owner gave the Council a call, the Council carried out an inspection and the Council then served a statutory repairs notice on the owners calling for the repair to be done.

The big advantage to the top flat owner in going to the Council and getting the notice served was that if the repair was not done by agreement with the other owners, the Council would step in, carry out the repair and (sometimes many years later) send out the bills to the owners.

For a few years now, Edinburgh Council has changed its policy and expects owners to be more responsible in looking after traditional tenement buildings in Edinburgh. The Council will now only serve a statutory repairs notice where emergency repairs are required.

So, you might ask, what is the problem if I am selling my property in Edinburgh?

Part of the problem is that there are many statutory repairs notices affecting properties issued before the Council’s change in policy and for which the Council will not be the repairman of last resort. So, the problem you would have is trying to sell your property in Edinburgh where there is a statutory repairs notice over the tenement building for a repair that has not been done and not likely to be done.

And the problem is that your buyer will find out about the repairs notice and will want to investigate it further as part of the selling/buying process.

But surely, if there is anything really wrong with the roof or the building that will show up in the Home Report?

Not always. Surveyors will not check to see if your property is affected by a statutory repairs notice and, if you have looked at as many home reports as we have, you will see, that surveyors will not always get access to look at the roof and so their comments on the roof are based quite often on what they can see from ground level.

So what happens when I am selling my property in Edinburgh?

The Scottish Standard Clauses which form part of the Purchaser’s offer will contain a clause which makes you responsible for your share of the costs of the repairs and allows the Purchaser to retain sufficient money from the sale price to make sure that when the repairs are eventually done, there will be money set aside to meet that. Effectively therefore the price is reduced by the cost of the repair and a little extra. This is called a Price Retention and if at the end of the day your share of the costs is less than the retention you will get back the balance. On the other hand, if your share of the costs is more than the retention, you are still on-the-hook for the shortfall.

However, it is almost standard practice in Edinburgh for the Standard Clause to be amended during the negotiations for the sale and purchase that the Purchaser will accept your property as is, but that too almost always results in the price being reduced as the Purchaser will have to take on the added liability for the costs of the repairs.

But this is not to say that happens every time. It really depends on what repairs are required. The typical example is a roof repair and that is likely to result in a price reduction of sorts. But if the repair is for a broken intercom system or a small drainage issue, then the Purchaser is likely to accept this without negotiating a price reduction.

How can you find out if your property is affected by a statutory repairs notice?

Happily the Council has a website where you can see if your property is subject to a statutory repairs notice which you can find here.

The Council are in the process of removing old statutory repairs notices

The good news is that the Council are in the process of removing older statutory repairs notices from their records and from their website. So, in the future it should only show current statutory repairs notices which, as mentioned above, would relate to emergency repairs only. This will certainly simplify things when it comes to selling your home.

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