If you want to save yourself and your fellow residents from sky high common stair repair costs then get organised. Local councils like the City of Edinburgh want the law chaged to get Edinburgh flat owners to setup a compulsory common stair repair fund.
Due to the now abandoned Statutory Repair Notice system , Edinburgh properties are falling into disrepair and I suspect that the City of Edinburgh Council does not want to get involved in managing these works.
Why bother having a repair fund ?
Well basically it’s
a good idea as my background is building maintenance and the old adage of “a
stitch in time” really does work i.e. spend a £100 now and save yourself £1000
in the future.
What if we organise a stair maintenance fund ?
good and well done as it’s more cost effective and if the owners contribute a
small sum of money into the fund every month then when a repair is needed its
no longer a financial shock and you can
fix it first time instead of patching it up on the cheap.
What if we don’t form a stair maintenance fund ?
I suspect the
councils will get extra powers so that if a stair does not comply with a repair
fund then they may want to force a Factor on a stair and the extra cost this incurs.
Is it not better and less hassle to get a Factor ?
Don’t get me
wrong a Factor can be a good thing but you have to pay for this service. One
example was that I had a landlord who asked me what was the cost of upgrading a
stair light to LED. I said £145 each for your stair. She replied it cost us
£200 via a Factor and we have to pay £50 a month Factors fee. Basically, a £145
job cost each owner £800
Remember a Factors management fee of £50 each a month in a stair of 9 is £5400 in total per annum.
A lot of organisers have highlighted the problems of some abandoned bikes in stairwells and wished they could manage them like the stair lighting. I was asked if I coud assist with documentation that helps reduce the bikes in the stairwell.
As you can see in the picture above this can be a typical scenario in a stairwell. Along with stair lighting not being maintained properly to some resdients this has become a safety issue. So , why are bikes abandoned or forgotten. Listed below is some examples.
Resident moves and forgets to take their bike.
Student who is a tenant graduates and moves on.
Resident no longer uses their bike.
Resident who uses their bike daily.
Organisers have highlighted that they do not want to stop people using their bikes but feel they situation can be better managed. After creating a Stair lighting notification form the feedback was it worked well.
Removing old or unwanted bikes does not mean they are being wasted. The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) have a bike recycling scheme for more information. or see the Twiter link below.
So, If you want to make your stairwell safer and help recyle unwanted bikes then download a copy of AEW’s Bike Notification Form.
The image on the right is a typical Edinburgh stair lighting control box that houses the astro timer clock and fuses. If your thinking of accessing this box for your own safety please don’t. If your not a qualified electrician then basically you are putting yourself at risk and worse if you get hurt then there is a good chance any accident insurance you have may not cover you. Also if you make things worse then your fellow residents may insist that you pick up the bill to repair via last man free’s all mentality.
Accessing Light Fittings
The image on the right shows a damaged and normal stair light fitting. I cannot stress enough, it is just not safe to access these light fittings. Some have 24 hour supplies with exposed 240 volt live parts. Check my twitter feed
The image on the left is a typical diy stair lighting repair after “Joe Public” tried to fix leaving the stair in darkness and the residents with a bill to repair. As you can see there are exposed terminals with a couple being live. Not a safe way to leave a job
The image on the right is the same control box tided up with a new astro timer clock along with the old fuses replaced by miniature circuit breakers fitted in a plastic Din box. No exposed live terminals just nice and safe. Get more information
Having a go with limited skills can be dangerous .
You could make it worse. I know as I have had to fix these jobs leaving the residents with a bigger bill.
Don’t put yourself at risk and get hurt leaving you with time off work without pay.
This is not house electrics and most control boxes are next to the 415 volt mains incomer that supplies the individual flats.
Accident insurance companies may not cover you as stair lighting is classed as utility equipment.
Costs are equally shared in the stair so don’t risk it.
AEW cannot give advise the general public on diy stair lighting repair .
AEW can do a free survey condition report with costs and options quickly.
Additional Information as of December 2019
Due to the amount of verbal abuse I have received recently with regards to some residents trying to in my view bully me into fixing their DIY attempt on the stair lights listed below are my reasons why I cannot get involved.
I just cannot afford to get involved sorting a DIY stair out.
Remember DIY is not insured if they get hurt.
Please do not call me out on the rouse of a free survey as it is not nice to get ambushed and then bullied into sorting the system. I will walk away
Residents will and do expect the DIYer to sort it out at their expense.
You cannot expect a company to honour the warranty on any equipment you bought.
I am running a business so if my quote is accepted then great as I am insured and I will give a warranty on the equipment that I supply.
So if you want to do the work yourself thats fine by me and good luck.
In 2021 the EU will stop the twice yearly summer winter clock changes for daylight savings , for more information. The UK parliament is also debating on the best way forward and will soon decide their response.
Will this affect Edinburgh stair astro timer clocks
The 2 clocks on the right are the original 1st generation digital astro timer clocks that are approximately 30 years old. The one on the left can be adjusted to drop the twice yearly clock changes. The one on the right has this function built in so cannot be changed.
What needs to be done if the UK changes
So far nothing needs to be done but if the government aligns UK time to Europe in 2021 then some stair lighting astro timer clocks will have to be replaced. The 2 digital clocks above have 30 year old technology and some are starting to fail. Also the older electro mechanical clocks are preset and will need changing. So, if you are the stair lighting organiser it would be wise to budget for this in the future.
Can AEW change the astro timer clocks settings
If the changes go ahead AEW installed timer clocks still under warranty will be modified free of charge. If you have a clock that can be modified then as a courtesy there will be a nominal charge for this. If the clock cannot be modified then a free survey will take place and a quote forwarded to replace.
To view the BBC video on why we change the the clocks
The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) have realised that owners are having problems organising repairs to their communal areas. So, they have set up a help line to give free advice on this subject. You can contact them on 01315296778.
AEW created a contact details request form for stair lighting and the feedback from organisers has been good. They have highlighted that a generic form for shared repairs would be a great help so. I have created a form to aid and assist the organiser communicate with the stair in order to get the relevant contact information and they can inform the other residents what work is required.
Update CEC wants to force flat owners to pay into a repair fund
As of the 20th of May 2019 The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) will be giving evidence to a Scottish Parliament working group to overhaul the national rules. This could force tenement flat owners to pay into a common repair fund. My opinion is it would be more cost effective for the stair to organise these repairs on their own. Because of the previous problems with the old the old City of Edinburgh Council Statutory Notice system. I can see CEC forcing a Factor on the stair to get repairs sorted. Basically a Statutory Notice system managed via a third party. This can work out more costly with regards to stair lights where the average individual bill of £20-£30 every couple of years if self organised or it could be £70-£80 every year not including the Factor’s management fees.
As a result with regards to shared repairs in Edinburgh it pays to be organised and have good communications.
This is a blog to aid residents who live in Edinburgh’s communal tenement properties to organise and understand the process of maintaining their stair lighting system.
History of communal stair lighting
The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) managed and maintained the stair lighting in both council and private properties. The costs were included in the council tax and the system worked fine until time caught up with the equipment. CEC made the decision to stop maintaining the lights in private properties in June 2016. They also converted via a government grant their properties to LED greatly cutting their maintenance and energy costs.
So, What happens now
The residents of the communal stair now have a legal responsibility to maintain the stair lighting for the safety of both residents and visitors. This means they have be proactive with regards to repair and maintenance.
How do you organise stair lighting repairs in Edinburgh
In an ideal world they have to get together and form a residents committee to organise plan and pay for the work required. In reality I have found that it is a lone resident who takes on this task of the organiser. This is because stairs have a mix of residents and rentals and in this digital world you can create a virtual residents committee.
So, How do you go about it
First of all read my AEW advise for organisers. Click here
Once your ready you need to contact the other residents to get their contact details. This may be the individual or the landlord or the letting agent. Download the AEW notification here. Then fill it in requsting contact details then make copies and post them through the resdidents doors or mail boxes.
Tips on communications.
Put the property address in the email title ie (23 Main Road Stair lighting work) This will aid landlords and letting agents for their filing systems.
Repeat this when communicating with contractors.
Always check your spam or junk folders as some Gmail and Hotmail accounts can reject some contractors emails.
Once you get costs you will need to get a concensus of the preferred options .
Quotes not Estimates
The difference between a quote and estimate is a quote is a fixed price cost. An estimate is a rough cost and there may be an extra charge. So, get quotes for the work required and make sure they are comparable.
Links you may find useful
For City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) advise on stair lighting click here
For City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) advise on shared repairs click here
Scottish Government residents association advise click here
When City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) ceased maintaining stair lighting a few property maintenance companies decided to get into the sector. There is nothing wrong with this as I believe the customer has the right to chose.
The thinking that anyone can change a bulb or tube sounds good until you hit a snag. So,I would advise that the customer gets comparable quotes that covers the whole stair lighting system. I have had to follow up on stairs that have been worked on by property maintenance companies and below are some examples of what I found.
Astro stair timer clock not working
Customer reports that the Astro clock is no longer bringing the lights on . I found the clock memory was cleared . The clock had to be reprogramed then checked it for operation leaving the customer with 2 bills
Customer reported that the lights were coming on too late. I found the wrong date on the clock ie set for May instead of November.
Stair lights on 24 hours a day
Customer reports the stair lights are on 24/7 and was told it was not a problem as they did not have to pay for the power. So, if the clock is faulty why fix it ? below is the reasons why you should be concerned.
Lights on 24/7 means reducing the service life of the 30/40 year old fittings.
This reduces the life of the tubes so more frequant relamp costs.
If not fixed CEC could insist on a meter being fitted leaving the residents having to organise and pay for the power consumed.
Having the clock fixed means the property complies with CEC stair lighting specification but more importantly puts less wear and tear on the system.
Faulty light fittings
One company could not get a light to work so subcontracted it to an electrical company . The bill for this was £190.00p. AEW repairs or replaces faulty light fittings free of charge on a relamp.
Missing or broken stair lighting shades
Customer reports that the shade was fixed back on with tape. AEW found the shade to be broken. AEW replaces missing or broken shades free of charge on a relamp.
LED Replacement upgrade
Customer reports that the LED lights stopped working 6 months after the upgrade. AEW found that the original 50 year old astro clock was used. It had failed due to wear and tear. AEW supplies a new digital Astro clock with every LED upgrade.
As one customer said to me ” buy cheap spend double to fix”
AEW offers you a no obligation free Edinburg stair lighting survey report that gives you the following
Present state of the stair lighting.
Relamping cost that includes wash/ clean the shades. In adition free light repairs.
Condition of Astro clock and protection devices.
Cost to replace / upgrade the stair Astro timer clock.
Cost to upgrade the stair to LED lighting as per CEC stair lighting specification
A new digital Astro clock is included in the LED upgrade quote.
Click here for a free no obligation survey report.
Peace of mind for the organiser with fixed price costs so, no surprise extra costs.