Dilapidations Guidance Notes,
Processes and Procedures
Talk to us about Dilapidations, also known as Dilaps for short
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The Guidance Notes on Dilapidations
Surveyors dealing with Dilapidations are given Guidance Notes published by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. In our opinion, in dealing with Dilaps over the years we have seen the Guidance Notes improve the way dilapidations claims are handled by standardising / formatting / templating the dilapidations process and helping remove ambiguities. This when married with the Civil Procedure Rules we feel makes the process much more robust.
RICS Guidance Notes
There are a few things we like about the RICS Guidance Notes:
1. They are easy to read
2. They follow a logical format for the surveyor this made sound a strange comment but many of the books that we have read really don't seem to follow how the surveyor works on the dilapidations claim.
3. Examples in the Guidance Notes
4. There are many other things too
It does say at the start of the Guidance Notes that the notes are for guidance and best practice but there are exceptions now and again. The Guidance Notes are very much to help Surveyors in their reputation of dealing with dilapidations and best practices.
You cannot teach an old dilapidations dog new tricks
Unfortunately we are still coming across a number of surveyors who choose not to use, or only partly use, the RICS Guidance Notes, or simply ignore them. As mentioned, they may, or may not be, chartered surveyors and therefore those surveyors of course that aren't chartered of course don't need to follow the Guidance Notes. We would comment that whilst dilapidations process and procedures have got a lot better over the years there are still some strange things that we come across.
Here are a few examples:
Those of you who have dealt with dilapidations claims in the past, particularly those who have dealt with dilapidations claims in the dim and distant past, will not be surprised when we say that we feel that some of the claims made by the landlord's surveyors are on the optimistic side. Equally we are well aware that the occupiers / leaseholders / tenants counter claims are often on the pessimistic side.
Whilst we understand that this was once part of the dilapidations game we feel that things have moved on considerably since this time and everyone should be looking for true accurate records to be produced to the best of their ability, following of course the Guidance Notes and the Protocol.
Breaches of lease not noted in dilapidations claim!
We feel that the very basis for any claim should be noting of the breaches of the Lease. We have dealt with a claim where the surveyor didn't note the breaches of the Lease, although he served lots of different dilapidations notices upon our client, the tenant. When questioned about this he advised us that he hadn't actually seen the Lease, which we do feel is almost inexcusable. From further questioning and discussions we discovered that lots of his dilapidations cases were dealt with in this way, where claims were made without seeing the lease, as his opinion most full repairing and insuring leased (known as FRI Leases) are pretty much the same. We spent considerable time chatting to this surveyor and we hope that that his future dilapidations claims will include the breaches and clauses references from the Lease.
On Dilapidations Claims information in a digestible format is key
Another claim that we have been dealing with is when we requested a copy of the information in electronic / computerised form, as this is generally accepted as being the way to communicate information backwards and forwards, and we received a paper document. This meant that despite various requests we didn't get an electronic format of the Dilapidations Claim, which meant that ultimately we had to type the Landlord's Surveyor's claim up ourselves to get an electronic format of it and then respond to it. This made it very difficult to pass information backwards and forwards.
Timescales and Dilapidations Timescales
The RICS Guidance Notes and the Civil Procedure Rules offer timescales. You do need to advise your clients of these. Whilst they are recommended we also feel they are good practice, but as we were told by a surveyor, they are only guidance notes. Unfortunately we still come across dilapidations surveyors working to their own timescales!
What do you do when a Surveyor blatantly ignores Dilapidations Best Practice / RICS Guidance Notes / Civil Procedure Rules?
It is really difficult to know what to do in such a situation, as even if you politely point to the surveyor in question that they are not following guidelines many can take umbrage and refer to the fact that they have been doing dilapidations for x number of 100 years in this format! It certainly isn't the time to advise them that things do change.
Equally, we have found (and we have tried this) to return the Dilapidations Schedule advising them that they haven't carried it out correctly because they haven't, for example, put in clauses that have been breached and lead to a breakdown in communication almost before communications have begun!
We have found the best way is to pick up the phone and arrange a meeting with the Dilapidations Surveyor at the property and get to know them a little and then get to know how they work and ask for their help and assistance by adding breach clauses or what ever other matter is the problem. We appreciate this does take time but we are very much a great believer in Earl Nightingale's book 'Win Friends and Influence People' as being the best method to proceed with a Dilapidations Claim.
Life Long Learning and the RICS Guidance Notes
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors requires life long learning, as do many professional institutes. Part of this gives the Surveyor the opportunity to update their knowledge on Dilapidations, with such things as the RICS Dilapidations Forum Conference that we have been to many times, that updates you. It also has interesting discussion topic points. Almost everything can be improved on including Dilapidations.
Almost everything can be improved upon, including Dilapidations
Over the years that we have been carrying out Dilapidations we feel that the processes and systems have improved considerably. Those involved in Dilapidations generally in our experience tend to be wanting to improve the process. There may well come a day when the RICS decide that you have to be regulated dilapidation surveyors, although we are not 100% certain whether being too specialist a surveyor is ultimately of benefit to the client.
A few thoughts for those involved with Dilapidations
An area that we are getting more and more concerned about is the sheer amount of information that seems to be coming the way of a property professional. For example, as a Surveyor you have the various information sources that the RICS produce, but also general information from Property Week, Estates Gazette, etc, etc. We feel it's getting to the point almost of information overload and it is getting very difficult to divide the critical and essential information from the not so critical.
We once worked at a surveying practice where a semi-retired surveyor used to come in a few days a week to sort through the various information that was arriving in the office and duly forward on what he thought most relevant. We are looking forward to the day when they invent a computer programme that does this for you (or have they done this already? and just from the sheer information that we get sent we haven't seen it).
Below are some links to other dilapidations articles:
If you truly do want an independent expert surveyor's opinion with regard to leases, dilapidations, schedules of condition, dilaps claims, scott schedules, commercial structural surveys, commercial building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back. If you have a commercial leasehold or freehold then you may wish to look at our Dilaps Website at www.DilapsHelp.com and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site www.DisputesHelp.com .
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