Property factors and managers

Property factors are hired by multiple homeowners to manage and repair their shared areas, such as stairs, hallways and gardens.

Groups of homeowners who self-factor or carry out their own repairs are not classed as factors.

Do I need a property factor?

Hiring a property factor can be worthwhile because they divide any repair and maintenance tasks on behalf of the owners.

Sometimes you must have a factor

  • if your title deeds state that you must have a factor

  • if you live in a newly built development, the developer may have been able to choose a property factor for up to five years after the property was built, or three years if you live in sheltered housing or retirement accommodation

  • if you bought your flat through right to buy, the council or housing association you bought from may have been able to appoint a property factor for up to 30 years or until two-thirds of the flats in your block have been sold through right to buy

Hiring and firing property factors

Your title deeds may set out the process for hiring a property factor. If they do not, you can make a decision using the tenement management scheme (TMS).

Normally, the deeds take priority over the TMS. However, if the deeds have a named property factor or it says that all owners must agree before you can hire or fire a property factor, the TMS overrides this. In these cases, if two-thirds of the owners decide to hire or fire a factor they can do so.

Every owner has to pay their share of the factor's fees, even if they voted against it.

Find a registered property factor

The Property Managers Association Scotland website has a list of property factors. Or your local council may run a property managing service for owners.

All property factors need to be on the register of property factors. It's a criminal offence to operate as an unregistered property factor.

Your factor’s responsibilities — code of conduct

The property factors code of conduct sets out the minimum standards all factors must meet.

Written statement of services

All factors must give homeowners a simple and transparent ‘written statement of services’. It must include details of:

  • their authority to act on behalf of the homeowners

  • the core services they will provide and target times for routine and emergency repairs

  • any extra services that may lead to additional fees

  • how much their services cost, including details of how and when homeowners will be billed

  • any late payment charges and how to request their debt recovery procedure

  • their complaints procedure and timescales for dealing with enquiries

  • any financial interest they have in the building, for example, if they are one of the homeowners

  • how to change or end your property factoring agreement

If there are substantial changes to the terms of the written statement of services, an updated statement should be provided within three months.

Repairs

Factors must have procedures in place that allow homeowners to notify them when something requires repair, maintenance or attention.

When hiring contractors, your factor is obliged to consider a range of repair options. They must also carry out a cost-benefit analysis for their chosen option. This must be available to homeowners on request.

If repairs or maintenance are cancelled, advice on financial arrangements and next steps should be provided.

Debt recovery

If recovering unpaid debts, your factor is obliged to give the homeowner reasonable time to comply. They must also flag the availability of debt advice services and information.

Other responsibilities

Under the code of practice, factors must also follow procedures when:

  • consulting and communicating with homeowners

  • insuring themselves and homeowners’ properties, if it applies

  • protecting homeowners' funds and managing the maintenance account

Complaining about your factor

Always make complaints to your property factor first. If the factor refuses to solve it or unreasonably delays resolving it, you can take the complaint to the Housing and Property Chamber.

How to complain to the Housing and Property Chamber

You can also take your complaint to the Property Managers Association Scotland if the property factor is a member.

If there are outstanding complaints when a new factor takes over, the duty remains with the previous factor to deal with any complaints raised during their time as the factor.

Last updated: 15 August 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England