Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Local Government & Communities Committee backs Property Factors Bill

The Stage 1 Report of the Scottish Parliament's Local Government and Communities Committee has supported the general principles of the Property Factors (Scotland) Bill, which will help pave the way for the Bill's forthcoming Stage 1 debate before the Chamber next month. 

The Committee's report is available here; it makes a number of recommendations to amend the Bill to take on board practical issues which arose during evidence; some of the key conclusions are reproduced below:

"45. The Committee believes that there is clear evidence testifying to the problems encountered by members of the public with property factors and that there is therefore a need to proceed with a statutory framework to regulate property factors. It concurs with those witnesses who stated that a voluntary accreditation scheme would not address the problem of factors that provide a poor service to consumers. While the Committee acknowledges the work already conducted by the Scottish Government’s working group in developing a national voluntary accreditation scheme, it does not consider that there is evidence to suggest that this will be ultimately successful in addressing inadequate factoring services. It therefore supports the approach taken by the Member in Charge of the Bill in proposing a statutory framework for the regulation of property factors.

58. The Committee therefore considers that it is appropriate for housing associations and local authorities to be included within the meaning of “property factor” contained in the Bill.

62. The Committee welcomes the meaning given to “property factors” in the Bill. It considers that it is important for the definition to include the ownership and management or maintenance of land that is available for use by the owners of any adjoining or neighbouring residential properties. The Committee considers that consumers should be entitled to a quality service and that a company should not be able to avoid the provision of this service as a land-owning maintenance company ...

110. The Committee recognises that complaints against property factors can often be very technical and concurs that a homeowner housing panel will provide an effective structure for dealing with such complaints.

 122. The Committee considers that difficulties faced by homeowners in switching property factor represents a major issue, particularly in relation to land-owning maintenance companies. While it recognises that there may be less need for homeowners to switch once the provisions in the Bill raise standards in the sector, it nevertheless believes that a simplification of the process would be of benefit to the consumer. The Committee believes this is an important issue that might require legislation. However, the Committee also recognises it is a very complex issue and therefore calls on the Scottish Government to undertake further research".

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