A tenement is a type of building shared by multiple dwellings, typically with flats or apartments on each floor and with shared entrance stairway access.
Tenements make up a large percentage of the housing stock of Edinburgh. Some of Edinburgh's tenements date back from the 17th century onwards, and some were up to 15 storeys high when first built, which made them among the tallest houses in the world at that time.
Unless otherwise stated in the buildings Title Deeds, all tenements in Edinburgh are governed by the Tenement Management Scheme (TMS). This states that all flats within a tenement have a shared responsibility for the maintenance and repair of the communal areas. This include cleaning, lighting, repair, door entry system, communal gardens etc.
The flat owner is ultimately responsible for the upkeep, maintenance and repair for their share in the tenement building this include landlords that do not live in the flat and absent owners.
How to get other tenants signed up:
There are exact steps to follow if you would like to take action for the maintenance or repair of your tenement building this is covered in the Tenement Management Scheme.
You and your landlord:
If you are renting, your landlord will be responsible for the upkeep, repair and maintenance of the communal area (unless specifically agreed between you and your landlord).
Tenement Management Scheme
For tenements in Edinburgh that do not have specifications for the management and maintenance of the building in that buildings title deeds, the Tenement Management Scheme would take its place.
Sometimes your title deeds will lay nothing down or have gaps which could lead to some problems when trying to make decisions regarding communal cleaning, maintenance or repair with other owners in your tenement.
For example, your title deeds might not:
explain how decisions should be made
describe all the common areas
give a share of costs that adds up to 100%
If this is the case, you and the other owners can revert to the 'Tenement Management Scheme' found at Schedule 1 of the Tenement (Scotland) Act 2004. This fills in the gaps in title deeds and helps make flat owners' responsibilities more clear.
The tenement management scheme:
explains what counts as maintenance
lists the 'scheme property' (the parts of the tenement every flat owner should maintain)
tells you how to come to agreements about maintenance (known as 'scheme decisions')
tells you how maintenance costs are shared between owners
If you and the other owners can't decide on if and how you should carry out certain maintenance, the Tenement Management Scheme will explain how you should come to an agreement.
You and the other owners may make scheme decisions on:
carrying out maintenance
arranging maintenance inspections
hiring or dismissing a property manager
giving a property manager authority to carry out inspections and maintenance
arranging common insurance
deciding that an owner doesn't have to pay their share of maintenance cost
sorting out emergency work
installing a door-entry system
changing or cancelling any other decision made in the past
These decisions will usually be made with a voting system, with each property representing one vote. The Tenement Management Scheme will give details on how this should be carried out.
Sharing the cost
Once a scheme decision is made, owners become responsible for the cost of carrying out any maintenance or repairs needed.
Your title deeds usually tell you how the costs should be shared between owners, but if there is nothing laid down or there are gaps you may use the Tenement Management Scheme.
Under a Tenement Management Scheme, all owners pay an equal share of the costs of maintenance and repairs, except:
when the work involves a part of the tenement that isn't used by everyone (in which case only the owners of the flats involved should pay)
when the floor area of the biggest flat is more than one-and-a-half times the floor area of the smaller flat (in which case repair costs should be split so the owner of the larger flat pays more)