PROPERTY managers who repeatedly break the rules and leave flats crumbling, damp and cold should face tougher enforcement, it has been claimed.

Scottish Tory shadow housing spokesman Graham Simpson said the current rules allowed companies to get away with failing to make vital repairs – while cities are increasingly facing a “building maintenance cliff-edge”.

It comes after it emerged billions may be needed to bring Glasgow’s tenements up to scratch, with thousands of closes in a state of “critical disrepair”.

A council report estimated around 46,600 tenement flats have been deemed dangerous and in need of structural and restoration work.

In a speech to the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Mr Simpson said the current tribunal system is “struggling to deal with factors that do not meet the code of conduct or their property factor duties”.

He said two thirds of all pre-1919 housing stock is in “critical disrepair”, adding: “In Glasgow alone, over 76,000 properties were built before 1919 and around 70,000 of these are flats within tenements.

“We’ve got buildings that have never had a maintenance plan, buildings with absent owners, roofs falling in, walls collapsing, masonry falling, no money to pay for it, people refusing to pay for it, factor companies not getting work done, factor companies falsely invoicing for work that hasn’t been done, conveyancing that doesn’t convey owner obligations on shared property.

“We are sitting on a building maintenance cliff-edge unless we act. It hits the news when bits fall off buildings and hit people, or narrowly miss them.

“But beneath the headlines are the things that don’t make the news – leaking gutters causing catastrophic damage to the fabric of buildings, roofs that need to be replaced, rotten window frames, damp and cold properties causing health problems, physical and mental.”

Mr Simpson said the only route for tenants unhappy with their property factor is to go to a tribunal.

He added: “Only five companies account for almost a quarter of all hearings. One of these companies has been ruled against 92% of the time, another 83%, and another 80%.

“In addition between December 1, 2016 and August 21, 2018, there have been six enforcement orders that have not been complied with.

“All six had been referred for prosecution but none of these cases have been prosecuted yet.

“One case is pending, two cases were dismissed due to the age of the cases and two were deemed not in the public interest.

“There is simply no joined up process between each stage of the enforcement process.

“It is always somebody else’s jurisdiction and nobody is overseeing all of it. This needs to be sorted. Tougher enforcement is needed.”

Tom Turley, Glasgow City Council’s assistant director of economy and regeneration, previously said there was “a growing number of dangerous buildings in the city”.