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.

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

Responsibilities if you own your home

You and other homeowners are usually responsible for communal areas.

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

You can hire a property factor to organise repairs and maintenance for you.

Using a property factor

We have guidance on using a property factor.

If you are unsure if your property is already factored, check the Property Factor Register.

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 your housing association.

If you do not know who is responsible for repairs

Check your title deeds to work out who is responsible. In some cases, only some 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

Read our guidance on title deeds if you're unsure or do not know where they are.

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.

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.

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 a neighbour to pay for repairs

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

If you need to go to court to force someone to pay their share, a solicitor can give you legal advice and help you apply.

Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Sometimes the council can help when a neighbour does not pay their share. They can issue a maintenance order, and pay for part of the repairs. This is only when a neighbour genuinely cannot pay, be identified or be found.

Under One Roof has more detailed guidance on:

  • repairs of communal areas

  • making decisions with your neighbours

  • enforcing repairs when neighbours will not cooperate

Last updated: 29 June 2022

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England