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Repairs in communal areas

If you own your home, you and your neighbours are responsible for communal areas. A property factor can do maintenance and repairs for you. To make decisions about repairs in communal areas, use your title deeds or the tenement management scheme.

If you rent your home, your landlord is responsible for communal areas. Check our guidance on:

What communal areas are

These are the shared parts of the building that are outwith your home’s boundaries. They are sometimes called common areas or common parts.

Common areas can be:

  • stairs, the stairwell and lifts

  • the close, entrances and fire escapes

  • paths and gardens

Common parts can be:

  • the roof, gutters and downpipes

  • external walls and foundations

Check who's responsible for communal repairs

You and other homeowners are usually responsible for communal areas.

You can arrange repairs and maintenance yourselves or use a property factor. Check our guidance on using a property factor.

If anyone causes damage to a communal area, they must pay for the repairs.

Otherwise, use your title deeds to work out who is responsible. In some cases, only certain owners are responsible.

Title deeds are legal documents that say:

  • what parts of the building you own

  • what communal areas you're responsible for

  • who else is responsible for repairs and maintenance

If there’s a mortgage on your home, your lender will have your title deeds. Ask them for a copy if you need it. You can also check title deeds on the Land Register for a small fee.

If you bought your home through Right to Buy

The council or housing association may be responsible for communal areas. They can also be the property factor.

It should say who's responsible in your title deeds. If not, ask the council or housing association.

If you do not know who owns a property

If an empty home is causing communal repair problems, get advice from the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership.

If your title deeds do not say who is responsible

Use the tenement management scheme to make decisions with your neighbours about communal areas.

The tenement management scheme is legislation that tells you what areas and parts you and your neighbours must maintain.

We have guidance on using the tenement management scheme.

Paying for repairs

You may be responsible for paying for a share of communal repairs.

If you're struggling to pay, get free money advice from Money Advice Scotland or Citizens Advice.

Forcing the council to do repairs

If the council owns the majority of the flats in the building and will not do repairs, make an official complaint.

Forcing a neighbour to pay for repairs

To resolve a dispute, use alternative dispute resolution. This is usually a cheaper, faster and more informal way to resolve housing problems without going to court.

If this does not work, you can apply for a court order to make someone pay their share.

To claim costs under £5,000, use a court process called simple procedure. You can generally apply and represent yourself if you do not want to hire a solicitor. Check the Citizens Advice guidance on simple procedure.

To claim costs over £5,000, use a court process called ordinary cause. You’ll need a solicitor’s help to do this.

Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website. You could get free legal advice or legal aid to help with costs.

When the council can help with communal repairs

The council could help if:

  • a neighbour cannot afford to pay their share

  • the homeowner who’s responsible cannot be identified or contacted

The council can issue a maintenance order and pay for part of the repairs.

More information on communal areas

Under One Roof has detailed guidance on:

  • repairs of communal areas

  • making decisions with your neighbours

  • enforcing repairs when neighbours will not cooperate

Last updated: 20 July 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England