Housing and Property Chamber

If you have a complaint that cannot be resolved between you and your property manager/ factor, you can take your case to the Housing and Property Chamber. Legal representation should not be necessary. This is a free service. If your property manager / factor is found to have broken the Code of Conduct, they may be told to pay you compensation and change their procedures in future.

What is the Housing and Property Chamber?

This recently replaced the Home Owner Housing Panel (HoHP) and is what is now called a First Tier Tribunal, an entry point to the Scottish legal system where legal representation should not be necessary.  There is no fee.

When to use the Housing and Property Chamber

You must first use the property factor's / manager’s own complaints procedure. The property manager should make sure your case is considered at director level before saying they cannot resolve the issue.  If at any point in the complaints procedure you have the chance to speak to your property manager face to face, we would suggest you do so.  It is clear from looking at some of the Housing And Property Chamber decisions that mis-communication and misunderstandings are very common problem.

If the complaints procedure does not resolve the problem, or is unreasonably slow, then you can go to the Housing and Property Chamber.

The Housing and Property Chamber is free to use. You may only be asked to pay expenses where you have behaved unreasonably.

What can you complain about?

You can complain about:

  • a common property issue (not individual) or
  • a property manager who has failed in their factoring duties (as set out in their Written Statement of Services) or not carried these duties out to a reasonable standard or
  • a property manager who has broken the Code of Conduct

You cannot:

  • complain about other owners (see Acting Together)
  • complain about the level of fees charged (but you can complain that you have been improperly billed)  
  • ask the Tribunal to dismiss your factor (see Changing your Factor)
  • ask the Tribunal to change your share of costs or the title deeds (see Changing your Title Deeds)
  • complain about a change in services provided

See Property Managers for details of the Code of Conduct and who is a Property Manager.

If several owners make the same complaint, the Housing and Property Chamber may organise a joint hearing.  Each owner can nominate the same person (maybe the Chair of the Owners Association) to represent them.

Before starting

Check the Written Statement of Service to confirm your issue is about something the Property Manager has contracted to undertake.  You can ask for a Written Statement of Service and it should be sent to you within 4 weeks.  If you are not sent your Written Statement of Service in time, this is something you can complain about it.

Notify your property factor in writing of the reasons why you think they have failed to carry out their duties, or failed to comply with the Code. 

Failed to carry out duties? Download a template letter from the Housing and Property Chamber’s  website

Failed to comply with the Code of Conduct? Download a template letter from the Housing and Property Chamber’s  website

Filling in the form

Sections 1 - 6 of the form looks for basic details of addresses and contacts. Section 7 is where you tell your story.

You need to say:

  • which parts of the Code of Conduct (give precise section numbers) you are complaining about
  • which of the factor's duties have not been followed in your case
  • your specific complaint - what went wrong and when, any witnesses – if there is more than one point, deal with each separately
  • what the Factor did or didn't do in response to your complaints
  • how this has affected you
  • what would help resolve the problem – an apology, reduction of fees etc

It's most important to back up your story with references to copies of documents. The panel recognises that you are just an owner and they will make allowances if, for instance, you picked the wrong part of the Code of Conduct.  If you are having problems, ask an advice centre for help.

You will also be asked if you have attempted any kind of mediation.

Download the form

Find an advice centre near you

Find a mediation service near you

The procedure

Applications to the Housing and Property Chamber are in writing.  Once received, the President of the Housing and Property Chamber has 14 days to accept or reject your application.  The application can only be rejected if it is:

  • vexatious or frivolous (without sufficient grounds and purely to cause annoyance)
  • you have recently made a very similar complaint
  • a complaint about an issue which has now been resolved
  • you haven’t given the Factor enough opportunity to resolve the dispute.

The President can also delay the application if it looks as though it could be easily resolved or if mediation is possible. You may also be asked for further information.

Many cases will be referred to mediation.  If this does not work, you can ask to be heard by the Tribunal.

When the President has made a decision that your case should be heard in full, you will be sent a Notice of Referral. At this point, you can choose to go for a written decision or to be heard in person.

Generally, people choose to have a hearing as it helps them put their case completely.  But if both you and the property manager agree, the whole case can be decided by written representations.   In this case, both you and the property manager will make written representations and you will both have a chance to comment on each other’s representations before the case is decided.

You should continue to pay your Property Managers bills and liaise with them over repairs while you are going through the hearing procedure.  Both sides are still contracted to one another.

Trying mediation

The Housing and Property Chamber operates its own mediation service.  This is a voluntary process – you do not have to do it but many find it very helpful, requiring less preparation of documents, the short circuiting of more formal hearings and the faster resolution to the problem.  This is an impartial process and is more about finding solutions than finding fault.

Mediators are trained members of the panel who will listen to the points both sides want to make and then bring them together to see if the parties can agree on a way forward.   Mediation is flexible and may take place over the phone. 

If you go for face-to-face mediation, it will take about a day.

You won’t be forced to accept anything against your will.  It will be your choice whether to meet the factor face to face and you can take up to 3 days after the mediation to consider whether or not to go ahead with any agreement made.

If you cannot reach an agreement, you can still request a full hearing.  The mediator will not be involved in that hearing.

Before the hearing

If you have opted for a hearing, you can request it to take place at a public venue near you and you can ask (giving reasons) for the hearing to be private. You will be sent a hearing date at least 14 days in advance.  You can write to the Tribunal to ask for more time or to change your representation.

Both parties may ask for or be given “Directions” to produce certain evidence or to bring witnesses or to make “skeleton arguments” if a point of law is being discussed.

Download a form to request the tribunal to make a “Direction”

You will be asked to send a list of “Productions” at least 7 days in advance of the hearing. "Productions" are any further evidence additional to the original submission.  Give yourself plenty of time to put this together.  You will need to

  • put all the required documents in logical order
  • number each document in order
  • number each page of each document
  • attach a written list of the documents or any other evidence (head this list with the case reference number, names of parties etc)
  • make at least two additional copies
  • add a list of any witnesses you intend to bring

Send one hard copy to the Tribunal and another to the Property Factor or their representative.  Details will be on the forms. You should also give a copy to any helper.  You will be sent a copy of all the Property Factor’s evidence at the same time.

What happens at a hearing?

You do not need legal representation but you can take a helper with you..

Be sure to let the Tribunal know if you decide not to attend or if you or a witness will be delayed.

All papers and evidence (“productions”) should have been circulated at least 7 days in advance.  You may not be allowed to rely on evidence that has been held back.

The hearing is informal – as courts go! Both parties are allowed to make their case – often point by point - and can question what the other side says.

Hearings generally take a few hours and normally start at 10.30.

You will get a decision about four weeks later in writing.

There is a list of upcoming hearings on the Housing and Property Chamber’s website. You can ask to be an observer at a Housing and Property Chamber hearing.  This may help you get better prepared. Contact the Housing and Property Chamber to make your request.

What can the Housing and Property Chamber do?

If the Property Manager is found to have failed to work to the Code of Conduct or failed in their “factoring duties”, the Housing and Property Chamber can make a Property Factor Enforcement Order which may include apologies, compensation and a change of practice in future.  It is a criminal offence for the property manager not to comply with the order.

Appealing

You can appeal a decision made by the Housing and Property Chamber but only on a point of law. Appeals are heard at your local sheriff court.

Next Steps

More about the Housing and Property Chamber