The benefits of an Owners’ Association in a tenement (with a case study)

A significant number of people joining our mailing list, say they’d like help with ‘starting and running an Owners’ Association’. If you live in a tenement flat you probably know the term, but did you know that there is a formal definition, and that within a few years all tenements are likely to need to have one (along with some related measures) and all flat owners will need to be part of it? Read on …

This is a good example of where we’re very happy to defer to the expertise of Under One Roof (Scotland’s charity for impartial advice on issues related to tenement management, maintenance and retrofit). Their section on Owners’ Associations (OA) offers good advice and even a sample constitution. They define it like this:

  • An owners’ association is a formal arrangement between the owners of your building. It arranges regular meetings to discuss how your building will be managed and maintained. By ‘formal’ we mean having a constitution, an agreed set of rules and procedures.

The Collective believes that an OA is a very good thing when it comes to planning building retrofit and improvement for the future as well as in dealing with shared maintenance.

Owners Associations take some of the potential stress out of arranging work that is the shared responsibility of all owners of the building. Up to now they’ve generally been associated with shared repairs, but in future they’ll also become increasingly relevant to shared works related to energy efficiency retrofit and planned maintenance. Such shared works will really need an OA to ease their planning and oversight.

Some tenements’ owners have established their own more informal OA arrangements over the years which have worked well enough, but which may also need to change before long. In early 2022 the Scottish Government asked the Scottish Law Commission to work on preparing legislation to require every tenement property to follow this ‘ABC’:

  • A: Association – have a formally constituted Owners Association;
  • B: Building condition survey – to be done every five years.
  • C: Cash – have an associated ‘sinking fund’ (to pay for works), to be regularly topped up by all owners.

We believe that this is a good direction in which to move, and that there could be significant advantages to embracing these changes soon, rather than waiting for the pressure of legal obligation and a big rush by owners. Such arrangements are also perfect for the introduction of Building Passports (based on the building condition survey) – something else that the Collective is in favour of.

So, that’s the theory. For a real case-study of setting up an OA (with some handy practical tips on how to get things moving along), check out the short video presentation on ‘The Kirk Street Owners Association’ by the Collective’s own Joanne McClelland, from the recording of our recent online workshop about forming community groups of different types and scales (‘Better Communities through Building Improvement’), available on our YouTube channel.

You might also be interested to watch the whole video. It gives:

  • an overview of the Collective’s structure, approach and mission

followed by four presentations on different scales of community group:

  1. Owners’ Association to ease building maintenance and improvement;
  2. Small community group with a focus on achieving economies of scale and easing the individual burden in research in implementing similar retrofit measures on local properties of the same age and style;
  3. Community group in a wider neighbourhood, to generate interest and consider various options for home energy and retrofit projects and
  4. Development Trust to build community through various projects in a larger neighbourhood.

Please drop us a line if you’re looking for more information or guidance on starting and running an Owners’ Association, to tell us how you get on or for any other queries.