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Council Maintenance orders

If the council believes that your home is not being, or is unlikely to be, kept in reasonable condition, you may be sent a maintenance order, requiring you to draw up a property maintenance plan outlining how you'll maintain your property for up to five years. If your home is part of a tenement or larger building, you may be required to draw up a joint property maintenance plan with the other owners, to show how you'll manage the upkeep.

What is a maintenance order?

Maintenance orders help councils ensure that privately owned properties don't fall into disrepair. You may be sent a maintenance order if the council is concerned that your home is not being, or is unlikely to be, kept in good condition, or that work done under a work notice is not being maintained.

What will I need to do if I'm sent a maintenance order?

If you're sent a maintenance order, you'll need to draw up a maintenance plan, outlining what you're intending to do to keep your property in good condition. The order will specify the time period to be covered by the plan, which can be up to five years.

Maintenance can include:

  • repairs
  • replacing anything broken or damaged
  • cleaning
  • painting
  • gardening
  • other routine work.

However, maintenance doesn't include demolition, alterations or internal decoration of your home (although it can include decoration of common areas such as stairwells).

The council will ask you to submit your plan before a set deadline, which should give you a reasonable amount of time to put the plan together. The council can modify or even reject your plan if it thinks it won’t maintain your house to a reasonable standard. If your plan is rejected, the council can either draw up a plan for you, or ask you to submit another plan. If you don't submit a plan at all within the deadline, the council can devise a plan for you.

The council will register the maintenance order and the plan in the relevant Land Register, which means that if you sell your home, the responsibility for keeping to the plan will be passed to the new owner.

What should a maintenance plan include?

A maintenance plan must:

  • set out the maintenance that needs to be done over the plan's duration
  • specify any steps to be taken to do this maintenance and when it will be done (for example, this could include cleaning out the gutters every spring and painting the windows once every three years)
  • include estimates of likely costs.

In some areas, the council may be able to help you draw up the plan, or you can get advice from a surveyor or builder about the work you're likely to need to carry out. The council may provide you with a template to help you, and should give you some guidance as to the kind of work you should include and the standard the property is expected to reach as a result of the plan.

Who has to carry out the plan?

It's up to you to carry out the plan, although the council may offer you some help, for example, in finding contractors or getting work done. In some cases, you may be able to get a loan or grant from the council through its scheme of assistance, although this will vary from area to area.

Can the plan be changed after it's been approved?

The council can change the plan at any time if there's a change in circumstances that makes this necessary. In this case, you must be sent a copy of the revised plan. If it's no longer practical to stick to the plan and it can't be changed to make it practical, the council can revoke it.

Can I appeal against a maintenance order?

You can appeal to the sheriff court if the council has:

  • sent you a maintenance order, or
  • approved a maintenance plan or drawn up a plan for you, or
  • changed or revoked a maintenance plan.

You have 21 days from the date the maintenance order was sent or the council notified you of its decision relating to the plan to make a summary application to the sheriff court. You'll need help from a solicitor to do this, but you may be able to get legal aid to help with the costs. If you appeal, the council can't enforce the order or plan until your appeal is decided.

However, if you're not happy about the order, it's best to contact the council first to discuss it with them. You may be able to reach a solution without the hassle and expense of going to court.

What if I don't carry out the plan?

If you fail to do the work laid out in the plan, the council may step in and do it for you, then recover the expenses for the work from you. This is likely to be more expensive than doing the work yourself, as the council can charge you administrative fees and interest at a reasonable rate. You may be given the option to pay the money back in instalments.

How does the council get the money back?

The council can make a repayment charge requiring you to pay back the expenses in annual instalments over 30 years. The charge is registered in the Land Register, so that if you sell your home, the person who buys it will need to continue paying off the debt. However, you can pay off the repayment charge at any time to remove the charge from the Land Register.

What if I live in a flat or tenement building?

If your home is part of a larger building, you may be required to draw up a joint maintenance plan with the other owners.

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The important points

  • Maintenance orders help councils ensure that privately owned properties don't fall into disrepair.
  • If you're sent a maintenance order, you'll need to draw up a maintenance plan, outlining what you're intending to do to keep your property in good condition.
  • It's up to you to carry out the plan, although the council may offer you to help.
  • You can appeal a maintenance order within 21 days of receiving it.
 

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