Tag Archives: Dilapidations surveyor

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.

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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- Landlords and Tenants do not get floored by claims or losses at lease end!

Dilapidations Lancashire,dilapidations expert

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.’

dilapidations lancashire, dilapidations expert

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.

 

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.

Words of praise, you are most kind,thank you

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.

Have a look in Testimonials for kind words.

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.