Defending Dilapidations Claims
When renting a commercial property, tenants will almost always be required to sign a lease. As part of the lease agreement, there is usually a section relating to vacating the property when the lease comes to an end; detailing the condition and state of repair that the property must be left in.
Tenants do not always pay this section the attention it deserves and often only realise what they have committed to once the lease is approaching an end.
If the landlord feels the property fails to meet the level of repair specified in the lease and therefore contractually agreed by the tenant, they can issue a dilapidations claim against the tenant. Depending on the state of repair of the building and the conditions of the lease, an outgoing tenant can find themselves liable to a claim of several thousands of pounds; a sum that many small to medium sized businesses would struggle to meet.
Lea Hough are called in by vacating tenants who have received a dilapidations claim that they feel is exaggerated, excessive or unfair. We are specialists in acting on behalf of outgoing tenants, assisting them to defend dilapidations claims and negotiating with the Landlord’s surveyor on the agreement of a dilapidations settlement. As part of this process, we will review the Schedule of Dilapidations the landlord has had prepared on their behalf. From here, it may be necessary to prepare our own Scott Schedule and negotiate down the cost of repair works.
If a schedule of condition was prepared at the outset of the lease, this can be used as evidence in defending the claim. If not, our experts can follow various other lines of defence that may be available to a Tenant in reducing a claim.
In addition to preparing reports on behalf of tenant clients, we are also adept at negotiating full and final monetary settlements – taking the burden of this process off our clients.
Our services may also be required if an Interim Schedules of Dilapidations is served – this is where a Landlord considers that his property is falling into disrepair and makes a claim during the term of the lease.
We are also able to offer clients tactical advice if their lease is approaching its end – helping them form an exit strategy from a premises and avoiding a big dilapidations claim being made against them.
Dilapidations is a specialised field that requires the advice of experienced professionals. The advice we provide is always relevant to the building and to the individual lease and as Chartered Surveyors, both landlords and tenants know that any report or advice we provide meets the strict code of ethics of the RICS.
For advice or assistance in relation to a terminal or interim Schedule of Dilapidations, or if your lease is approaching an end, please contact us.