Maintenance or improvement

You need to check your title deeds to see if they define what 'repairs' and 'improvements' are for your building. Title deeds are often very vague on these issues, especially those for older tenements. 

If there is nothing in your common title deeds that clarifies the issue, you should follow what the Tenements Act 2004 says. 

The Tenements Act says 'maintenance' includes:

  • repairs and replacement
  • cleaning
  • painting
  • other routine works
  • gardening
  • the day-to-day running of a tenement
  • the reinstatement of a part (but not most) of the tenement building
  • installing controlled entry security systems
  • installation of insulation

'Maintenance'  excludes:

  • demolition
  • alteration or improvement unless “reasonably incidental to the maintenance”

An improvement is typically described as adding something new to a building that wasn't there before. Whereas, maintenance primarily involves repairing the existing parts of a building that need fixing. However, when something new is added that is essential to a repair, this is still considered maintenance.

What counts as “reasonably incidental to maintenance” is not specified in the law. It covers situations where owners repair part of the building and improve the specification for good maintenance reasons. 

So, if owners are advised that a close front door cannot be reasonably repaired, then replacing it with one of a more secure specification would be considered maintenance, rather than an improvement. 

The same would apply if the gutters needed replaced and owners decided to use an undercloak and deeper gutters as this website suggests.

Owners are seldom responsible for paying for improvements they did not agree to. Owners who do not agree to improvements can often block improvements going ahead. They may be persuaded to allow the improvements to go ahead if they do not have to pay.

Legal reference

Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 Schedule 1 Rule 1.5

as amended by 

Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 s69