Tag Archives: dilapidations claim

Dilapidations Lancashire- A video is worth 10000 words 500 digital photos and a wedge of money saved.

I come across from time to time poor and impoverished Schedules of Condition prepared on behalf of ingoing Tenants comprising pretty basic and limited written schedules and  photographs.-an attempt to limit the Tenant’s liabilities to a condition no better or worse than recorded at the time of Lease was the probable brief. Gosh these must have been prepared  years ago before digital camera technology I hear you say. Often yes , but  I have had to try to defend terminal dilapidations claims on basis of schedules prepared as little as 5 years ago meeting this description. It is hard work as it seems the object of dispute is always just outside the field of view of the photograph. Sod’s law. I can interpolate a lot from overall state of repair and decoration shown on a series of photographs but there is nothing better than a comprehensive visual record which leaves no room for arguements between Surveyors often many years down the line. Digital photography technology allows us now to take hundreds of photographs and store them on  SD cards or similar cards the size of a postage stamp or DVD disc . ( CDs very rarely these days have enough space to store sufficient high-resolution photos).

Even hundreds of photographs might not be enough. To address this issue we have adopted and use the best of technology to now prepare definitive Schedules of Condition comprising comprehensive written descriptions of defects, cross referenced high resolution photos ( minimum 9MP) and High Definition Video  (AVCHD) . A HD video is priceless for recording complex defects and conveying the condition. Run on your common place HD TV on say a 42″ screen the HD video reveals all. I started last year when faced with prospect of recording condition of 4.5 acre industrial site of complex buildings of many varied types. It worked and I provided multiple DVDs ( about 2.5 hours of video )to compliment digital photos and written schedules. No arguements in 10 years time at lease end.Period.  Sony  or other commonly available Blue-Ray players or even Sony ps3 play the discs beautifully.

I have now adopted the procedure for more modest commissions. Why accept anything less? OK it costs extra in time and effort and cost but the definitive record is priceless to resist overstated dilapidations claims at lease end. My aim is to make it as far as impossible  to pursue a legitimate claim for disrepair where limitation as to condition at time of lease is of essence.No system or approach is perfect but my clients will always be assured I shall continue to strive to perfect my method using the best of technology available.

They may not know it for 5 or 10 years but they will reap the benefit .

Seemples?

WOW  (Words of wisdom)

Limit your liabilities by definitive ingoing Tenant’s schedule of condition.

HD video is an invaluable part of such schedule.

You know where to come.



Dilapidations Lancashire-Terminal Claim for £100500 managed down to £2400!

Facing a big claim?
Facing a big claim?

A Tenant client of mine rang Jones & Co from his newly acquired position standing on a window ledge facing the prospect of a self- propelled precipice drop.

‘I have received a Terminal Schedule of Dilapidations claim for £100500! We have only occupied the premises for 5 years and now this bombshell…what can we do?’

I duly took instruction  calmed him down and helped the distraught Tenant step back from the window ledge .

I conducted a review of the Claim which included an inspection of the premises and detailed examination of the Lease. The Tenant was indeed bound by fairly standard lease with liabilities to keep the premises in repair, redecorate in the last three months of the lease and not to have made any alterations without consent.

The Tenant had unfortunately not been advised before Lease to have a Surveyor prepare an Ingoing Tenant’s Schedule of Condition . This would have served two purposes : to ascertain condition and for attachment to Lease to limit liabilities to keeping the premises in no better or worse condition. The operative words in the repairing clause ‘to keep’ meant that where the premises were already in disrepair the tenant would assume liability to put into repair. A common and often very expensive mistake.

‘Not fair’ I hear the cry so many times. Well you are a big boy or girl and you are entering into a legal commercial contract so why did you not take the best legal and surveying advice at the outset?

This Tenant fortunately contacted Jones and Co with a couple of months left in the lease and there was just enough time for action. The review of the claim revealed a fair number of item requirements for repair were indeed potential legitimate claims.  I was however in disagreement with a significant number of items which I considered either outside the scope of the lease requirements and were not the Tenant’s liability or were simply overstated. eg Replace rooflights £10000when a clean and reseal would suffice. Replace colour coated metal barge boards £5000 when  a repaint only was necessary. You get the picture.

I prepared a  formal Review of the Claim and identified legitimate liabilities and matters to address. Doubtful items were identified and I suggested these items were worth arguing. I recommended a strategy and response. Acting on the advice the Tenant determined to effect works of repair and decoration and reinstatement to mitigate his own exposure to the potential dilapidations claim.I prepared a Schedule of works I considered he should address . He took control of costs and with professional advice carried out works of repair and redecoration which were considered reasonably required by the Lease and not all those required by the Landlord’s Surveyor. Upon vacation of the premises I prepared a full Photographic Schedule of Condition recording the condition. Always do this as it can save arguements later as it indeed did.

The premises looked pretty smart at lease end and all credit to the outgoing Tenant  a good job had been done and fair amount of money spent but nothing like the amount of the potential claim! There was nothing prejudicial about the vacated condition which might be offputting to a potential new Tenant- which is of course dear to any Landlord’s heart and wallet.

'Left pretty smart upon vacation.'
'Left pretty smart upon vacation.'

Congratulations all round you would think? Effusive thanks from Landlord? No. A revised Claim  for £25400 only.

‘Hell fire or f*** me ‘ as actually uttered by the ex- Tenant! Understanadble.

My client duly contacted me and requested I negotiate settlement which I duly did. The majority of the items still claimed were challenged and argued against.The claim was reduced to £20500 but they would ‘settle for £10000 ‘( getting desperate). I considered £1750 plus VAT equivalent was fair and reasonable ( being majority Landlord’s Surveyors fees for the merry dance we all had enjoyed)

Well suffice it to say the matter was finally settled at around £2400. Result!

WOW (Words of Wisdom)

A small industrial unit- a big dilapidations claim
A small industrial unit- a big dilapidations claim

1. Always take best experienced and informed professional legal and surveyor’s advice before lease

2. Always commission an ingoing tenant’s Schedule of Condition (and do not forget all engineering services.)

3. Always negotiate repair and decorations liabilities. Spell out just exactly what you are prepared to take on and expressly exclude all matters you are not.

4.Keep your house in order and do what you have contracted to do in respect of repair and redecoration.

5.Take control of costs and plan backwards from lease end date and allow sufficient time to put the house in order. Take advice from your Surveyor as to strategy .

6.Always seek advice when you receive  a Repairs Notice or Schedule of Dilapidations. The Landlord’s Surveyor’s requirements may not properly reflect the actual liabilities.

Dilapidations Lancashire -Another satisfied client

‘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.

Thankyou.’

Norman Green. Kirkby Lonsdale

Dilapidations Lancashire-Exercise some flexibilty in these trying times…..a hangover could cure your headache

Dilapidations,dilapidations expert

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.

Dilapidations Lancashire- What is dilapidation?

 What’s all this dilapidation about?

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)

Footnote:

di·lap·i·date  (d-lp-dt)

tr. & intr.v. di·lap·i·dat·ed, di·lap·i·dat·ing, di·lap·i·dates 1. 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).]

Dilapidated-the Temple of Apollo Dydima Turkey
Dilapidated-the Temple of Apollo Didym Turkey,but no Tenant to pick up the tab!

The curious case of mechanical incontinence.

 

The curious case of dampness
There was a whole hidden lake.......

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.

Dilapidations Lancashire.Landlords-protect your position (Dilapidations Claim)

dilapidations,the practical surveyor,building surveying

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:

  1. Periodic check inspections of the premises during the currency of the lease
  2. Use Repair and Decorations Notices to make sure the Tenant does not store up arrears
  3. Arrange for last periodic inspection to coincide with last 12 months of the lease term
  4. 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.

avoid repair and decorations arrears
avoid repair and decorations arrears

Dilapidations Lancashire .Practise safe sex? Well practise safe leasing! (Avoiding dilapidations claim.)

Dilapidations,dilapidations claim,dilapidations schedule

Sexual health self-assessment

Ok ladies and gentlemen take this short test to find out whether your sex life is putting your health at risk. How much do you really know about safe sex practices?

What ?I thought this was about surveying !!!

I apologise for the hook but I have your attention and the analogy is true. 

Lease and wealth self-assessment for the tenant.

Take this short test to find out whether your lease is putting your wealth at risk. How much do you really know about safe leasing  practices?

1.OK you have just lined up a hot sexy date. ( Found some attractive premises to rent)

1. Have you any idea what the risks are and just what nasty STDs you can catch? (Have you any idea what your lease requires you to do in respect of repairs, decorations and reinstatement. )

2. Did anyone explain to you just exactly what you might be exposing yourself to?

3. Ok you are just about to jump into bed ( sign a lease)with a complete stranger the mistress or toyboy( The Landlord).You think this is going to be free of liabilities once the coupling is done( lease term). Are you sure you are not going to catch something nasty and unexpected as a result? A LTD! (Lease Transmitted Disaster)

4.The mistress or toyboy (Landlord) can be very seductive and entice you into that bed with all sorts of charming and alluring behaviour and promises ( rent free period )

5. Bang the deed is done. The lease is signed.( less than 30 seconds)You have had unprotected exposure. ( You have signed to the lease and you are contractually bound by seemingly innocuous clauses in a bewildering legal document). Have you done this?

6.The LTD might not show for years but when it does it was all because you engaged in  fumbled hurried unprotected leasing. Don’t you just feel stupid? (Your wealth is going to be seriously affected.)

OK.  STOP NOW!! Do not become another victim of ignorance. Practise safe leasing and take precautions.

As an expert dilapidations surveyor I have worked for some of  the largest and most successful businesses and commercial property managers in the NorthWest. ( Iotech Group Ltd,  Stax plc,  James Hall & Co Spar Stores).

I have acted for the same and many similar businesses where they are Tenants of commercial properties. Leading NorthWest Solicitor practices regularly refer their clients to me.

I have provided expert defence to end of long lease claims against Tenants of up to £1.3 million ( subsequently agreed in the case 0f the £1.3m claim at £650000.)

I have undertaken  dilapidations surveys on behalf of my clients for the past two decades. I understand exactly where Tenants can be most vulnerable to claims at the end of a lease.

I am by experience both a poacher ( for Tenant) and a game keeper.( for Landlord)

If you have neglected to deal with you repair and decorations liabilities, unfortunately the only defence you have available to you at the end of a lease is to engage an  Dilapidations Expert like me and hope that the landlord is not going to be too agressive . ( Hopefully the Landlord has also engaged an  inexperienced dilapidations  surveyor to act for it if you are lucky)

This is damage limitation only: far better not to have put yourself in that situation in the first place.

OK .What is involved in practising safe leasing?

  1. Employ the best specialist Commercial Property Lawyer you can afford( I mean seriously experienced and not the sadly all to often generalist solicitor regurgitating or cut and pasting old leases-come on guys who really gives credibility to  ‘ye shall whitewash distemper  marble and paint’)
  2. Employ the best specialist Dilapidations Building Surveyor you can afford to carry out a pre-lease inspection of the premises and prepare a comprehensive Ingoing Tenant’s Schedule of Condition.This will be in written photographic ( including elevated birds eye ) and increasingly HD Video format and preferably a combination of all three. ( It is if I carry it out.)
  3. Ask your Dilapidations Surveyor to give you an executive summary and advice as to just what are the major issues as to current repair and decorative liabilities and liabilities to be addressed  at lease end.
  4. Negotiate with the Landlord for the Landlord to correct existing defects or give rent free period monetary equivalent for you to keep ( and to put) and the premises in good tenantable repair. But do not then forget to sort matters out.
  5. Or if the Landlord will nor put hand in pocket to repair ( despite possible healthy cash injection from previous sucker tenant) seek to agree to limit your liabilities to repair and surrender the premises at end of lease in no better or worse condition than an agreed attached Ingoing Tenant’s Schedule of Condition. (And it better be very comprehensive! The landlord can seek to attack you with the ferocity of a rabid pitbull.)
  6. Maintain  repair and decorate during the lease term and certainly well before lease end. It far cheaper for you to commission these works. If you have altered the premises or added to the same without landlord’s consent reinstate the premises. Why give yourself a problem and the Landlord a chance to go for that handy cash injection?
  7. Engage a Dilapidations Surveyor to examine the lease and check over the premises and see where you might be exposed to claims for repairs and decorations and plan backwards from date of the end of the lease and implement a programme of remedial works.

I am an Expert Dilapidations Surveyor with over 25 years experience.  If you need help contact me.

I have recently provided safe leasing precautions by preparing a comprehensive schedule of condition of the whole of a multi-hectare site with significant and complex industrial buildings. ( Multiple written schedules, 8 CDRoms of Photos and 2 hours HD  DVD Video).

No LTDs for that Tenant!!! ( provided of course they reasonably maintain and decorate to prevent deterioration from recorded condition)

WOW (words of wisdom)

Simple isn’t it?

The prescription:  Take sensible precautions and enjoy safe leasing to your heart’s content.

 

 

On matter of Terminal Dilapidations Claim ( Landlord’s handy cash injection). Avoiding Dilapidations Claim

Reviewed an overstated Landlord’s claim today for terminal dilapidations (wants of repair and decoration) at end of commercial lease on industrial premises. My client ,the former tenant, is naturally worried by the staggering amount claimed. ( A third the capital value of the premises)

Moral of tale 

1.Take professional advice from experienced Building Surveyor before Lease on the condition of premises and  by commissioning and attaching a schedule of condition  to the Lease. 

Limit liability to yield up  the premises in no better or worse condition than evidenced by the Schedule

Too late you didn’t do this?

2. Put your house ( or rather the premises ) in order whilest you are still in occupation. Listen to your Surveyor and act on his advice with regard to reducing your potential exposure to eye watering claim

Too late you didn’t do this?

3. Come and see me and I will see what I can do to reduce the scope and amount of claim ,but be prepared to contribute to your former landlord’s bank balance to greater extent than would have been necessary.

Next time do not be a fool and blind to your potential liabilities.

Obtain the best solicitor’s and surveyor’s advice and guidance you can afford before signing that Lease.

I think in the current case I can help and negotiate the claim down. There are certainly some aspects of the claim not covered by the lease covenants and others are clearly overstated and exaggerated.

WOW( words of wisdom)

As you know prevention is always better than a cure.