MANY homeowners in Scotland live in properties with common parts – those parts shared with their neighbours.

In a tenement this would include the common close and the roof – and in a new development it may include grass cutting and the maintenance of internal pathways.

Often common parts are looked after on behalf of all relevant owners by a property factor. By law, property factors are bound by a Code of Conduct, requiring them to abide by minimum levels of standard in the discharge of their duties.

If a property factor fails to meet that minimum standard, then homeowners can complain to the Housing and Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal in Scotland. This Chamber considers complaints about breaches of the Code of Conduct, and also complaints about failures in service and duties.

Property factors are obliged to provide each homeowner with a written statement outlining the services they will provide, and the standards of service the homeowner can expect. The title deeds to a property will also contain details of the conditions under which factors must operate in relation to that particular property.

The written statement of services provided by the property factor should provide information about communication and consultation; financial obligations; debt recovery and policies on non-payment; communal insurance; repairs and maintenance procedures, and complaints resolution.

Before complaining to the Housing and Property Chamber, a homeowner must first notify their property factor, in writing, of the reasons why they consider that the factor has failed to carry out their duties, or has failed to comply with the Code of Conduct. If the factor refuses to resolve the complaint or delays unreasonable in doing so, an application to the Chamber may be justified.

In making an application to the Chamber, a homeowner must include written evidence of the complaint made, and written evidence of the refusal to resolve or delay.

The Chamber will also require a copy of the Statement of Services and any other relevant documents such as invoices, letters and emails.

If the Tribunal finds in favour of the homeowner, it can require factors to make changes to their practices and can even order the refund of fees and the payment of compensation.