‘Not just a good surveyor, but meticulous in detail, and energetic in prompting dilatory advisors on the ‘other side’ into activity. Also, excellent in the finishing details. Well worthy of praise and recommendation.
A constant source of arguement between Landlord and Tenant (and their Surveyors )at lease end is about carpets and other floor coverings. Do they fall under the Repairing covenant? Are they loose or fixed . Are they glue fixed or on gripper rods? Who put them in?
When is a carpet in repair any way? If you walk across a carpet lots of times it will inevitably wear. Put desks and furnitute on top of carpet and it will indent. Sunlight streaming in through windows will cause fading. Spill coffee tea ink toner etc and it will become soiled. Walk in with dirty shoes and you will get grimy footpath trails associated with personnel traffic through the premises.
Ok so the tenant tries cleaning the carpets. They may be cleaner but what about the fade patches and uneven wear associated with wheely chairs and foot tapping staff at desk positions?
At the outset of the lease consider the issue of floor coverings and set down precisely how carpets and floor coverings are to be dealt with at lease end.
Landlords if you want all floor coverings renewed at lease end expressely say so at the outset and record in the lease. Specify the type and quality.Do not hope the repairing covenant will cover. Why should you provide new coverings and let someone abuse them- the floor coverings are a diminishing assest anyway. Fact- they will soil and wear and fade. Period.
Tenants if you do not want to renew floor coverings at the lease end or pay for them expressely say so at the outset and record in the lease. Do not take premises with pre-existing shag (ged) carpets and floor finishes and sign up to repair covenant to keep in repair because you can not keep in repair a worn or faded carpet or sheet vinyl floor.. You will inevitably face claim for new floor coverings.
Both parties to the lease should carefully determine at the outset their respective positions and expectations about future liabilities for floor coverings and expressely agree and record how they will be dealt with at lease end – include a specific paragraph in the lease. -something like ‘the Tenant will at before lease end renew all carpets and vinyl floor coverings or pay to the landlord the costs of the same at lease end.’ or ‘the tenant will have all carpets and other floor coverings cleaned in last 3 months before lease end or pay to the landlord the costs of the same at lease end but will be under no obligation to replace any floor coverings.’
WOW ( words of wisdom)
Landlords and Tenants should determine how floor finishes will be dealt with at lease end and agree liabilities and expressely set out in lease.
Leave nothing to interpretation in years down the line. Save ££££££ in claims or losses.
Tenants are well advised ‘to put their house in order’ before lease end or face potential dilapidations claim for breaches of lease covenants to repair redecorate and reinstate. But what happens if they do not plan backwards and arrive at the end of the lease with little or no time to carry out works? What’s the Landlord to do? What’s the Tenant to do?
Well the Landlord can take back the premises and initiate a dilapidatons claim with all the risks, expenses and delay and uncertainty especially if the Landlord is not intending carrying out the works. The Tenant’s diminution valuation defence looms large : you know the one; OK so the costs of repairs are £25000 but the value of the premises is only reduced by £5000 or nothing!!!
Alternatively with a little flexibility on the part of the Landlord the Tenant might be able to negotiate to hang over on bare licence after lease end to carry out the works and surrender the premises in repair and decorated.
The Landlord gets what he should want ,which after all should be his premises given back in tenantable repair and freshly decorated; the Tenant gets what he wants which should be to take control of costs and minimise his exposure to claim and discharge his lease liabilities.
I would not advocate this as a strategy for Tenants to adopt as it is certainly very risky, but I would certainly as I have recently done, commended Landlords to consider allowing the same.
After all in these trying times why as a Landlord should you run the risks of not recovering the full costs of repairs and decorations if you can accept some modest delay and get the active co-operation of the Tenant in sorting matters out with all the risks as to costs his?
In my locality prospective new Tenants are hardly beating the doors down of commercial agents to sign up for new leases of commercial premises and certainly not those which are visually run down and poorly decorated.
Just a thought…..
WOW ( words of wisdom)
Landlords should not automatically plunge headlong into confrontational dilapidations claim. Think about your objective. Your interests may be best served by flexibilty in encouraging the Tenant to sort matters out even at the cost of free hangover after lease end.
As part of my practice’s Quality Assurance procedure I always request feedback from my clients. Your kind comments and of course constructive criticisms are always helpful and appreciated. Even the occasional moan is welcome as it shows where I can seek improvement. I thank you. You are most kind.
Dilapidation is a term meaning in general a falling into decay, but more particularly used in the plural ( dilapidations)in English Law for:
the disrepair for which a tenant is usually liable when he has agreed to give up the landlord’s premises in good repair.
For the next pub quiz:
Dilapidation is derived from the Latin for scattering the stones (Lapis) of a building.
WOW (words of wisdom)
Avoid being on the receiving end of dilapidations claim. Understand your lease liabilities, take control ,repair and redecorate and be prepared to remove and make good any alterations you have made.( before lease end)
tr. & intr.v.di·lap·i·dat·ed, di·lap·i·dat·ing, di·lap·i·dates1. To bring or fall into a state of partial ruin, decay, or disrepair.
2. Archaic To squander; waste.
[Latin dlapidre, dlapidt-, to demolish, destroy : d-, dis-, apart; see dis- + lapidre, to throw stones (from lapis, lapid-, stone).]
A client of mine rang up this week. ‘You did a survey on my house in 2001 and we have found some recent wetness on the carpet in the hallway at the base of the stairs. ‘
OMG. Had I missed something? I did not think so as I maintain a pretty tight QA system in my inspections and comprehensive note taking and photographs. Nobody was pointing the finger at me but I defy any building surveyor not to feel slight loosening of the lower digestive track when he or she hears those words.
Well 8 years is a long time for conditions to change in a property and the client could not satisfactorily describe his problem over the phone, so I arranged to make a visit to see if I could help. Fortunately the property was only local to the office so off I went.
The property is a modern traditionally built house built around 1998 with cavity walls and solid concrete floors. There is an estate full of them. And quite pleasant too.
Well the hall carpet was indeed wet at the bottom of the stairs. I peeled the carpet back and the black asphalt below was visibly wet. The stair base and adjacent timber skirting was discoloured having absorbed dampness. I looked further around the hallway and found the door frame bases to the cloakroom and kitchen doors discoloured and showing signs of swelling. The doorways are set in the usual lightweight modern partitions common in modern speculative house construction. The client’s wife was naturally upset and had quite rightly suggested in no uncertain terms her husband had better get it sorted.
Well I set about and looked for the usual suspects. Were there any outside defects? Any signs of flooding or rainwater runoff, bridged damp proof course, piled earth, raised paving levels leaking waste or rainwater pipes. No, nothing, not a thing out of order.
So back to the inside. Anything amiss? Were there any leaking radiators or adjacent central heating pipes. No. What about hot and cold water service pipework in the bulkhead cupboard upstairs; had water tracked down inside the partition? I had a panel off upstairs. No ,dry as a bone. Could not get into base of stairs as builder had partitioned off base of stairs to create a cupboard off kitchen. ( which was helpful!)
What about condensation? Mmm,so why just locally and to the inner warm part of the house?
Any leaking pipes in the cloakroom? No. Curious. A leaking dog? No.
Expanded the inspection to adjacent kitchen. What have we got here? A sink, a built in washing machine. Any immediate signs of leakage? Well none to the sink position. Then I noticed some swelling to a kitchen unit plinth base.
‘Do you mind if I pull this off?’ ‘No’ said desperate client fearing the wife’s vocal retribution if it matters were not sorted .
‘Bingo’ said I. ( enigmatically with some smug superiority)
Under the fitted kitchen units I found a lake of standing water as the picture shows ( well a big puddle actually). The washing machine had been seriously incontinent for some time and water had flowed all round the kitchen under the units. Upon close inspection you could just see seepage under the plinth board onto the floor tiling to base of the units. Turns out the client had been wiping up the dampness thinking it was spillage by wife, kids etc or condensation. You know how it is in a busy household. I am always kicking the dog’s water bowl over in mine.
But how was it spreading internally across 2 to 3 metres without leaving a track? Well the kitchen has a ceramic tiled finish and the hall a carpet on gripper rod edges. The reason for spread? Capillary action. Water in the kitchen base cupboard was leaking into cracks and gaps to the edges of the black asphalt and was being drawn by capillary action in the gap between asphalt and concrete floor slab; asphalt screeds are not not generally bonded but are separated by glass fibre membrane. Well water spreads below the asphalt and then becomes manifest at any break in the membrane; the edges , adjacent partitions and walls and nail or screw fixings ie the carpet gripper rods and carpet door strips. ( Always insist on adhesive fixing for this reason. There are some pretty sticky adhesives available to carpet fitters these days)
What to do? Seems like an insurance claim to me. Curing the leak is no problem but repairing and replacing and damp isolation will be hellish difficult. Water and dampness will remain trapped in perpetuity ( forever!) unless the screed is removed and floor surface allowed to dry.
Anyway that’s another story and hopefully not mine. I would not fancy suggesting full fitment strip out and break up of screed and finishes and partition base renewals to the client’s wife!
Turns out the client is an insurance broker! Handy.
Job done, defect diagnosed. The charge for these services? None, but if the Client ever reads this and feels so disposed a donation to the Local Hospice might be appropriate. An hour of professional time has got to be worth something these days.
The inestimable investigative skills and deductive reasoning of the expert Chartered Building Surveyor win again.
Sadly Andy Murray in the semis at Wimbledon the next day did not. Still ‘£212500 compensation aint bad boy.’
WOW (Words of wisdom)
Household appliances including washing machines and dishwashers can leak. Check them regularly and always investigate unexplained dampness or puddles.
Tenants often sign up to leases of premises and never have any contact from their landlords except to receive rent and insurance demands or participate in rent reviews.
How many Landlords conduct periodic inspections during the Lease to make sure their Tenants are complying with their obligations to repair and decorate.
Properly drafted leases usually oblige the Tenant to keep the premises in repair and to decorate periodically. So why let the Tenant get in arrears in respect of repairs and decorations.
Redecoration particulary externally is preventative maintenance and stops corrosion or wet rot decay developing to the point where replacements are necessary.
Electrical installations should be periodically inspected , tested and certified.( Usually every 5 years in the case of older installations). Gas installations should be annually inspected and tested and certified. How many Landlords ask to see these during the currency of the lease?
No usually what happens is the condition of the premises is not on the Landlord’s agenda until lease end. Then a Surveyor is sent in and lo and behold the premises have years of backlog maintenance and repairs outstanding. Decorations have been neglected for years .The cumulative costs of these arrears can be eye watering to a Tenant. In times of economic downturn the solvency of the Tenant can be questionable.
Landlords check your leases and more than likely there will be provision for the Landlord to gain access for periodic inspections to review the state of repair and decoration of the premises. If the Tenant is in default of obligations serve an interim repairs and decorations notice requiring the Tenant to take corrective action.
Try to ensure the final inspection is about 12 months before lease end so a Notice can be served and the Tenant has adequate time to sort matters out. The Landlord’s requirements for any reinstatement matters can be spelt out to the Tenant who then cannot rely on defence of insufficient notice.
The need for weighty dilapidations claim ( and ensuing dispute) will be much reduced. The risks of the Tenant going belly up and leaving the Landlord to pick up the tab is limited to a maximum of 12 months neglect
So to recap Landlords protect your position by:
Periodic check inspections of the premises during the currency of the lease
Use Repair and Decorations Notices to make sure the Tenant does not store up arrears
Arrange for last periodic inspection to coincide with last 12 months of the lease term
Arrange for terminal schedule of dilapidations to be served on the Tenant in last 3 months of the lease term.
This should protect your position.
A bespoke drafted lease at the outset is helpful and I shall discuss this in some future post.
WOW ( words of wisdom):
Never let out so much of the rope you are holding as you are prepared to lose.