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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
New bill tackles neglected houses
Council house - generic
The bill could make owners responsible for repairs
A new bill is planned which will give councils powers to make homeowners repair neglected properties.

The move was announced on Wednesday after the communities minister told other ministers about the plan.

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman confirmed Margaret Curran had presented a paper on the bill's proposals.

The plans stemmed from a housing improvement task force set up in 2001 amid serious concerns about the state of private sector housing in Scotland.

The spokeswoman said: "Ms Curran outlined some of the proposals that would be in any bill.

Repair notices

"They would look at, for example, giving local authorities more powers to deal with disrepair in the private sector."

No further details were given, but the legislation may include provisions for single surveys to smooth the house-buying process.

This, however, is likely to be reserve legislation, which would be used if the executive decided to achieve single surveys by compulsory rather than voluntary means.

The legislation may also include extending the existing "tolerable standards" in housing to cover insulation and electricity.

At present, if a house is in serious disrepair, councils can serve repair notices.

But the executive said last year it wanted to see that extended, giving councils powers similar to Edinburgh, where by-laws enable the city to compel homeowners to stump up for necessary communal repairs.

The powers could be used in the case of flat-owners holding out against paying for repairs, or where a house posed a threat to adjoining properties.

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