Buying a Flat

While flats are good value for money and often close to many services, you need to check carefully what you are buying into. In buying a flat, you are buying into a community with a joint responsibility for common repairs and management. Good property management is more important than good decorative order when it comes to buying a flat.

Choosing a good flat

The best flat to buy will be one which has:

•    an active owners association giving leadership to maintaining the building
•    good property management arrangements
•    a programme of works underway or recently completed
•    a maintenance plan
•    a building reserve fund

You are unlikely to find a flat that meets all these requirements and which is of the right size and in the right place so check carefully what you are taking on.

Finances

In calculating what you can afford to pay on a monthly basis for your new flat, you need to include:

  • the mortgage
  • council tax
  • fuel bills
  • saving for the annual cost of repairs
  • factors bills
  • common insurance.

The Home Report

This contains important information about the flat.  Look beyond the property valuation and check:

  • The Single Survey – You should include the cost of any Category 3 Repairs in the true purchase price as these wil need dealt with urgently. You will also need to be able to find the cost of any Category 2 Repairs in the near future. Category 1 repairs are minor.
  • The Property Questionnaire – Are there proper arrangements for managing the buildings? Check Questions 11, 12 and 16
  • The Energy Performance Certificate – has anything been done to make your fuel bills lower?

Other checks

  • Try and find out about your potential co-owners – are they good at co-operating with repairs?

  • Can the property factor/manager give you any additional information about the building?

  • Get estimates for any repairs observed in the home report – if it looks like you will struggle to get common repairs sorted, consider whether you really want to pursue this purchase. If it’s just the seller who has held up repairs, this may not be a problem.  But if it’s other owners, be prepared to have to enforce repairs.

  • Listen carefully to what your legal adviser tells you about any property conditions (burdens and servitudes), parking restrictions, use conditions etc.  If you aren't specifically told about these things, ask.  It's what conveyancers are paid for.

Am I responsible for recent common repairs?

If common repairs are underway, even if they have only just been agreed to, the selling owner will be responsible for paying their share of these. Their co-owners may decide to serve a Notice of Potential Liability to ensure this happens. The Notice must be served 14 days before a new owner takes over the property to be effective. Make sure your conveyancer deals with any Notices during the purchase process.

What if there is a repayment or charging order on the property?

These must have been served 14 days before you acquire the flat to be effective.  Your solicitor should make sure the selling owner pays these off from the sale of the property.

After the purchase

Once you have completed the purchase, let the property factor/manager (if there is one) know.  You should be sent a Written Statement of Service within 4 weeks which will let you know what their role is.

if there is no property manager, find out about what happens with common repairs from other owners.

Further advice

Buying and Selling a Home in Scotland

Sample Home Report 

Sample Property Questionnaire