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Glasgow City Council

What is a Tenement?

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What is it?

This page provides a definition of a tenement and describes the types of properties which are classed as tenements.

Section 26 of the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 defines a tenement as:

"Two or more related but separate flats divided from each other horizontally. The definition is framed broadly in order to include not only traditional tenement properties, but also four-in-a-block houses and larger houses which have been subdivided".

Who is it for?

Owner occupiers and owner landlords in tenements.

Types of properties classed as tenements

Types of residential developments defined as tenements in Scots law which are found in Glasgow include.

  • Traditional sandstone tenements of between 2 and 5 storeys in height constructed between 1840 and 1920, found within the city centre and the original former burghs annexed by Glasgow in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these tenements include shop units on the ground floor which form part of the whole tenement block
  • Four in a block flatted properties built originally by Glasgow Corporation and some private builders between the first and second world wars. A small number of these have access staircases at the rear of the property.
  • Any two, three or four storey tenement "walk up" flats constructed after 1920 including 1 and 2 apartment Glasgow Corporation built Single Persons and Aged Couples Flats.
  • Multi storey and deck access/maisonette blocks mainly in the ownership of Glasgow Housing Association and other Registered Social Landlords operating in the city.
  • Any new build flats with communal features built on vacant sites and gap sites by housing associations from the early 1980s onwards.
  • Private blocks of flats with or without lifts of two or more storeys built in the post war period and right up to the present day. Some more modern developments and conversions from offices also have shared facilities such as gyms and swimming pools. Even these more recently constructed blocks of flats are still classified as tenements.

Even if the walls are constructed in brick and roughcast or the building relies on concrete and steel to maintain its integrity, it is still a tenement and owners of these properties are bound by the same rules relating to common property maintenance as the owners of older traditional sandstone tenements.

Exceptions and variations

However, there are exceptions and variations, especially in some older properties. The common areas for which you share responsibility (or are separately liable for) are likely to be set out in your Title Deeds or through other legal documents arising as a result of any sub division of the property or substantial alterations to the building.

Any changes to the title deeds and share of burdens concerning a property which has been converted from the original structure and purpose should have been lodged with the Land Registry Service for Scotland.

Some examples of property types and properties with recently added facilities where there may be a variation on responsibility for common property elements follow:

  • Converted townhouses

    Victorian and Edwardian town houses were originally constructed for one owner, but over a long number of years many have been converted to either separate residential properties within the original structure or have been made into office premises.

    A converted former townhouse on three or four levels may have a shared common entrance which is not used by a ground floor resident whose front door is separate.

    Unless title deeds and burdens have been changed through a legal process, responsibilities for common elements generally rest with all owners or proprietors of individual properties within the converted building. Owners should clarify with their solicitors, the obligations of residents
  • Tenements with main door or "garden flat"

    A large number of tenements in Glasgow have a main door flat on the ground floor which, although separate from the close, is still part of the whole tenement block and so owners of these flats are still liable for a share of mostof the common property repairs relating to that tenement block regardless of whether they use the common stair or not.

    The main door garden flat owner normally assumes responsibility for the garden which is for their exclusive use.


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