New property repair advice service to begin

Owners of shared properties looking to organise repairs will be able to get help from a new Council service from Tuesday 2 April.

The Shared Repairs Service will provide advice and information to owners through the process of organising repairs from finding a contractor to arranging payment. It will also signpost owners to other repair support services such as property factoring, property management agencies and mediation, and the use of legislative powers like the Tenement Management Scheme.

The Council will retain its statutory notice powers and will maintain the current 24/7 emergency service for urgent repairs.

An extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders last year identified that there is still demand for the Council to provide a project management service for more significant shared repairs. Options for this will be explored over the coming months, with a report expected to Council in about 3 months

Councillor Alasdair Rankin, Finance and Budget Convener, said: “Maintaining the safety of Edinburgh’s properties is a concern for us all. Our aim is to find the right balance, based on the outcomes of the consultation exercise, with the Council taking a lead role in emergencies and providing support for non-urgent cases.”

From April advice and information will be available through the Council’s website, neighbourhood offices and libraries, getting in touch with the Council’s contact centre and by meeting with officers. The topics covered will include building inspections, working with neighbours, mediation, finding a contractor and arranging payment.

Cllr Rankin added: “This new service will be focused on our customers. Staff are receiving comprehensive training so that they can ensure property owners get the information and advice they need. We also know that there is demand from the public for the Council to have a bigger role in this area and we will be looking at potential options.”

The Property Conservation Service, which used statutory notices for emergency and non-emergency repairs, will cease operating from April 2013. However, work will continue to resolve outstanding complaints and to settle outstanding bills.

The new service was considered at a recent Council meeting, with councillors agreeing to a further report in the summer on options to expand the service.

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