The Scottish Government has published a consultation to their proposed Cladding Bill, which seeks to address a number of issues related owners manging the issue of cladding in certain buildings in Scotland.
Under One Roof has submitted a response to the consultation, which calls for an expansion of effort by Scottish Government to identify other safety issues as part of the proposed efforts that will be made to identify and address unsafe cladding, and an expansion of the Duty to Maintain to include safety. Our response in full is below.
This Bill is tightly focussed with the scope limited to giving powers to Scottish Government and to allow them to incur expenditure on cladding alone. However, a number of surveys have found other major fire-related design flaws, such as a lack of adequate fire escapes, and the tackling of these should also be included in this Bill.
We believe the Bill could be improved in other ways to make it more future-proof and to include more powers for owners to deal with other aspects of building safety themselves.
Section 26(2)b specifically excludes buildings which do not have external cladding being included in the regulations in the future, e.g. crumbling RAAC concrete in homes. It is perfectly conceivable that other risks will be identified that cover properties that would be defined as tenements and where it is difficult to get owners to work in concert to deal with risks and where a form of single survey is also required (even if we have an owners’ association as a potential single commissioning body for surveys and compulsory quinquennial inspections as currently being considered by the Law Commission). We would like to see additional construction types and defects to be included, even on a basis that does not oblige Scottish Government to cover costs and take responsibility for action.
While it is fairly clear to us that the definition of maintenance in rule 1.5 of the Tenement Management Scheme (part the Tenements Scotland Act 2004) covers commissioning surveys and replacing cladding, there is an argument that the specific inclusion of safety works as maintenance (and so subject to a simple majority vote of owners) would provide a great deal of clarity.
We also note that the Duty to Maintain only covers support and shelter at present and would like this to be extended to cover “safety”. This would allow one owner to commission and carry out required safety works, including works to individual properties and recover costs from other owners.