MPs to probe laws on sacking factors

MSPs are to investigate how difficult it is for homeowners to sack their factor.

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Two years ago the Scottish Parliament passed the Property Factors Act, which had been proposed by Glasgow MSP Patricia Ferguson.

The move followed an Evening Times campaign highlighting some of the worst practices by rogue firms in the sector and called for action.

Ms Ferguson, now representing Maryhill & Springburn, was concerned by our reports of unscrupulous factors overcharging owners and pushing people into debt with high charges and interest costs.

Now the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee is to look at the process by which owners can sack their factor if they are dissatisfied and appoint a new one, after it emerged a separate Act from 2003 may make it more difficult for factors to be dismissed.

It appears a two-thirds majority is needed for the decision to be legal in many cases, including former tenants who bought their homes under Right To Buy laws.

If the local council or a housing association still owns some homes in a block it can make it impossible to achieve the required majority.

Local authorities and housing associations can impose a 'manager burden' that lasts up to 30 years on properties bought under Right To Buy legislation.

The committee is asking if it is necessary to tie homeowners into an arrangement for such a long time and whether the council or housing association should have its voting rights modified so it cannot block a simple majority decision.

The investigation extends to land owning property management companies.

Christine Grahame, Justice Committee Convener, said she hoped the investigation would lead to changes to benefit homeowners.

She said "We are undertaking this short inquiry because existing legislation in the 2003 Act appears inflexible, complicated and impractical for homeowners who want to switch property factors.

"We hope this focused post-legislative scrutiny will achieve a positive outcome for the thousands of affected homeowners."

The committee wants to hear from individuals and companies of their experience of the current system.

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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