Falkirk Council: Flat owner's legal challenge over cost of roof repairs

A landlord has launched a legal challenge to plans by Falkirk Council’s to replace a roof and roughcasting on a block of flats – at a cost of £11,000 to each of the private owners.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporter
Friday, 29th April 2022, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd May 2022, 5:39 pm

The local authority owns four of the flats in the block at 25-35 Gilchrist Drive, Bantaskine, and has told the owners of the other two flats that the planned work will cost a total of £68,000 – £11,463 per flat.

The council says that the flats, which are around 45 years old, are showing signs of deterioration and the work they have suggested will “preserve the life of the property”.

But landlord David Aiton believes that work the council is proposing is not necessary – and his lawyer has now written to the council saying the work the council is proposing is “disproportionate”.

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The block of flats in Gilchrist Drive where one flat owner is challenging the bill for reroofing the property

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Mr Aiton said: “It’s not a fait accompli that the council can just ride rough shod over the rights of individual property owners.”

The landlord, whose letting agency, Sinclair Services, has several properties in the area, says he has no objection to paying for repairs where necessary.

But he says a council report into the work seems to suggest it is not necessary, stating the roof is “generally in a reasonable condition for its age”.

He also claims that he has asked another contractor to look at the job and has been given a quote that is just over a third of the price the council quotes.

Mr Aiton said: “We are legally challenging the legitimacy and fairness of Falkirk Council’s proposal.”

His lawyers say that the Tenement (Scotland) Act 2004 states that any work must be “necessary and constitute reasonable maintenance”.

They have now lodged a formal complaint with Falkirk Council, saying that they consider the work to be excessive and “grossly disproportionate” to any benefits that might accrue from the improvements.

Mr Aiton is also concerned that other owner occupiers are being hit with excessive bills that they will find impossible to pay.

He said: “There are private owner occupiers who have worked hard to own, maintain and pay for their own properties, in these blocks of flats.

“They are now being extremely stressed and potentially crippled financially by the council’s extortionate, disproportionate and grossly unfair approach.

“This is particularly galling when the council’s own technical advisers are even assessing the properties as being ‘in reasonable condition’.”

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said: “We have a responsibility to keep our properties in good repair. The roofing and roughcasting at this location are approximately 45 years old and show signs of deterioration.

“We want to protect the property from the elements, reduce the number of reactive repairs and preserve the life of the property.

“The quotes we have issued for the work are based on competitively tendered prices. The price includes an allowance for unforeseen costs, however, these costs would be deducted should they not be used.

“Private owners have the opportunity to provide their own quotes for these works from an approved contractor of their choice, provided they meet appropriate health and safety guidelines and have appropriate insurances.”