Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Repairs, Improvements and Adaptations

What if I need a repair done?

If your property requires a repair you should report it to our Customer Services staff by telephoning 01856873535.

Our out of hours emergency telephone number for repairs is 01856873430. Please note that this number should only be used in an emergency, for example a burst pipe which is likely to cause a flood unless attended to straight away.

You have a legal right to have certain repairs carried out in set timescales. Please see the information below for a summary of your rights and responsibilities in reference to repairs. You may also wish to see our Repairs and Maintenance Responsibilities Leaflet which outlines who is responsible for repairs (tenant or landlord), available through the related downloads section of this web page. A hard copy of this leaflet is available from the Council Offices.

The Council’s Responsibilities

As your landlord, Orkney Islands Council has certain responsibilities in relation to the condition of the property. This includes a responsibility to carry out necessary repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, for example, repairs to the roof and external windows.

We will also keep in a good state of repair and working order fittings that we have provided such as those for the supply of water and electricity and sanitation, for example sinks, showers, baths and toilets. We will also maintain installations such as fires and central heating systems, including fireplaces, flues and chimneys, and hot water heating.

Timescales for Repairs

Type of Repair

Timescale of Response



Within 24 hours.

An emergency repair includes repairs affecting health, safety and security such as blocked toilet when it is the only toilet in the house.


3 working days.

Urgent repairs include repairs such as loose bannister rail.


20 working days.

Routine repairs could include exterior repairs to doors or windows.

Please note that we are not responsible for repairs that are required because of damage that is due to neglect or deliberate action by you or anyone living with you or visiting you. However, we may do the work and recharge you for the cost.

Details of the timescales for various repairs are given in the Qualifying Responsive Repairs Leaflet, available through the Related Downloads section of this web page. A paper copy can also be requested from the Council Offices.

Your Responsibilities

As the tenant you are responsible for taking reasonable care of your home. This will include:

  • Doing minor repairs such as replacing light bulbs and fuses.
  • Sweeping the chimney.
  • Internal decorations.

You will need to seek our permission if you wish to put up a TV aerial or satellite dish.
You have a responsibility to report any required repairs to us as soon as is reasonably possible.

Right to Repair Scheme

The Right to Repair scheme applies to all Scottish secure tenants. We have a duty to notify all Scottish secure tenants of this right on an annual basis and we will do so via “Housing News”.

We would like to know if you are satisfied with the repairs service that you receive and therefore we send repairs satisfaction surveys to tenants who have requested a repair.  Please take the time to complete these surveys as the information you provide will help us to ensure that we deliver a good service and allow us to identify any areas that need improvement.

You are entitled to have a “qualifying repair” carried out to your house. Qualifying repairs are defined in law and examples include a blocked sink, bath or basin or a loss of internal electric supply. You will be notified immediately whenever you report a qualifying repair.

The majority of qualifying repairs must be completed within 1 working day. The maximum time allowed to carry out a qualifying repair begins on the first working day after:

  • The date we are told of the repair.
  • Where we inspect the house, the actual date of the inspection.

This maximum time will be suspended if there are exceptional circumstances. This may include extremely bad weather conditions or the unavailability of parts. We would try to make temporary arrangements in these circumstances and we will let you know if the maximum time has been suspended.

If you refuse access to the contractor then the timescales will not apply. We will provide you with a reasonable opportunity to provide access.

If the contractor has not started the work within the required time you have the right to instruct another listed contractor to carry out the qualifying repair. Full details on how to contact approved contractors will be provided when you report the repair.

If you do instruct another contractor they have to advise us immediately of that instruction and we will tell them when to complete the repair.

For further information on the timescales for qualifying repairs please see our Qualifying Repairs Leaflet, available through the related downloads section of this web page. A hard copy of this leaflet is available from the Council Offices and is also part of the Tenants Handbook.


If the main contractor has not finished the qualifying repair on time, you will receive a flat rate payment of £15. If you instructed a second contractor and they do not carry out the work within the timescale, you will receive an extra £3 for every working day the repair remains outstanding. The maximum sum payable is £100.

Can I make improvements or alterations to my Council house?

If you want to:

  • Alter, improve or enlarge the house, fittings or fixtures.
  • Add new fixtures or fittings, for example kitchen or bathroom installations, central heating or other fixed heaters, double glazing, or any kind of external aerial or satellite dish).
  • Put up a garage, shed or other structure.
  • Decorate the outside of the house.

You must first get our written permission. We will not refuse permission unreasonably. We may grant permission with conditions including conditions regarding the standard of the work.

Please note that we will require an appropriate report from an appropriately skilled or qualified tradesman. For example, if the works involve a gas supply, they would need to be carried out by a Council for Registered Gas Installations (CORGI) tradesman.

Please also note that you are responsible for obtaining all appropriate consents, such as planning consent or building control warrant. Our permission does not entitle you to carry out any work without the appropriate consents.

If you have made alterations or improvements with our written permission, you may be entitled to compensation at the end of your tenancy under regulations governing such arrangements. We also have the power, even if you do not qualify under these Regulations, to consider a discretionary payment (Right to compensation for Improvements).

If you carry out any alterations or improvements without our permission we are entitled to restore the house to its previous condition during, or at the end of, your tenancy. If we do so, we will charge you for this work. Alternatively we may give you the opportunity to restore the property to its previous condition at your own expense, and we will carry out an inspection to ensure that the work has been carried out to the required standard.

If you wish to carry out any improvements or alterations, please contact our Housing Management Section.

Untidy Common Areas and Tenants’ Gardens

If you have concerns about illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles, black refuse bags left in places other than designated areas, dog fouling in tenants’ gardens, untidy or unkempt tenants gardens, vehicles other than cars and vans parked in housing services car parks i.e. boats, trailers etc you should contact our Housing Management section.

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