The Scottish Government's vision is for the people of Scotland to be able to live in good quality homes which have high management standards and are fit for the future. Protecting the common parts of property and land as well as improving standards is an important part of that vision.
We recognise that homeowners are ultimately responsible for ensuring that shared spaces connected to their property such as roofs, communal stairways, shared gardens and other common land are properly maintained and kept in a good condition. This brings benefits in protecting a homeowner's investment in their property as well as making a crucial impact to their own and their neighbour's health and wellbeing. In circumstances where a property factor has responsibilities for managing that process on behalf of homeowners, then they should deliver their services in a clear and transparent way and to the homeowners' satisfaction.
The requirements set out in the Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011, including the Code of Conduct are now approaching their sixth year of operation. Over that period, the number of registered property factors required to comply with the Code has increased year on year. The outcomes indicated in the most recent report of the activities of the Homeowner Housing Panel (now part of the First-tier Tribunal) also suggest that while there is some evidence of service improvement within the factoring sector, there could be further improvement particularly in relation to communication and complaint handling. This presents an opportunity to consider strengthening the requirements of the Code and the wider regulatory regime.
Registered property factors are an important part of the provision of housing related services in Scotland and the Code sets the minimum standards of practice for how they should undertake their business with homeowners. While I recognise that some property factors will endeavour to provide a level of service to their customers that exceed these standards, there is an established pathway under the Act for homeowners to seek resolution where they believe that the service they have received has fallen short of the standards required.
Your views will help to ensure that the minimum standards of service provided to homeowners continuously improve and that the requirements of the Code and the wider 2011 Act strike a fair balance between the duties placed on a registered property factor and the standards of service which homeowners should expect.
I look forward to hearing your views on this consultation.
Kevin Stewart MSP,
Minister for Local Government and Housing