£2,500 for the Cost for a Schedule of Dilapidations without Any Dilapidations

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    £2,500 for the Cost for a Schedule of Dilapidations without Any Dilapidations

    Hi

    I have a three year lease on a small 300 ft2 room in an office block which is coming to an end in a fortnight's time. In the lease it says that I have to redecorate and re-carpet in the last three months.

    The block is managed by a major property company and I have been chasing them up for the last two months as to what colour they want me to paint the walls as the lease conditions requires that I first obtain their consent on this, and whether they actually wanted me to landfill the perfectly good carpet or if we could agree a wear and tear amount.

    They finally sent a surveyor around last week who said that he would get back to me in a couple of days - he didn't so I had to chase again. On Friday evening - he sent me a draft Schedule of Dilapidations and finally confirmed that I should just match up the carpet and wall colour as best I can as they don't have the specifications.

    In this draft there is basically little except for the redecorations and re-carpeting which they know that I intend to do. But he did spot three blown light bulbs, an end cap missing off the electrical trunking and some dust needing cleaning. He also claims to have spotted some damaged ceiling tiles (I never noticed but will look at them when I am next in the office although clearly we've never touched the suspended ceiling). He has put in silly amounts to correct these extra items (totaling to about £1,200 ex VAT!!) but I will sort these out for a tenner in under an hour.

    My worry is that in his Schedule of Dilapidations he has penciled in £1200 for his fees for preparing this Schedule (the Surveyor is part of this major property Group) and £850 in legal fees to serve it.

    At first blush it looks that I am on the hook for whatever they feel like charging me. The Lease says that

    15 The Tenant shall pay the costs and expenses of the Landlord including any solicitors’ or other professionals’ costs and expenses (incurred both during and after the end of the term) in connection with or in contemplation of any of the following:

    15.4 the preparation and service of a schedule of dilapidations in connection with this lease;




    But I found a ten year old post

    https://forums.landlordzone.co.uk/fo...-dilapidations

    which says that a landlord could only charge for a Schedule of Dilapidations if it was really needed and not for the costs of any inspection which found none. But this is a ten year old post, and the surveyor did find some trivial items - but this was before the end of the lease and of course he wasn't going to look at a tiny room for fifteen minutes without finding something.

    Will I have to pay their pay £2,500 (with the VAT) check out fee dressed up a Schedule of Dilapidations?

    Is there any legal provisions / case law on this that I can throw back at them?

    I will be most grateful for your advice as this has kept me up - hence my post at 5.30am!!

    #2
    1) it's a draft schedule

    2) the surveyors estimate of the cost of the work (known as a quantified demand) is just an estimate; it is included in the event that if the work is not one done before you vacate and the landlord claims damages )for breach of covenant) then the amount of damages would be based upon the agreed cost of the work. (There is a protocol; agreement would have to be reached as and when.) In fact, the landlord doesn't have to claim damages if you don't do the work, it could do the agreed work and claim the actual cost. Or the landlord might not bother.)

    3) surveyors fees for this type of work are normally based on time, hourly rate. The surveyor did find a few items that you hadn't spotted. There is no set scale of charges but £1200 +VAT equates to about 4-5 hours which when you include the surveyor's time for travelling, writing and preparing the draft doesn't sound unrealistic. As the schedule hasn't been served the legal costs aren't applicable.

    4) if you do all the work itemised on the schedule before you vacate (provided all the works are necessary for compliance under the lease) then not only does it not matter how much less the work would cost you but also there should be little or no fear of a claim afterwards.

    5) i say 'little' because a schedule of dilapidations is only good as a record at the date and time of the inspection. having a list of works that the landlord would want done before you vacate is helpful but it does not prevent the landlord from issuing another schedule after you vacate in case the surveyor missed anything first time. However, after you have vacated any extra work. the landlord wants done but which wasn't on the schedule beforehand can sometimes be avoided by saying it wasn't like that before you vacated.

    6) I've skim-read the content via the link you posted; i wouldn't have thought it applicable in your case. On ending a lease, a landlord is entitled to prepare and serve a terminal Schedule of Dilapidations, It is not a question of whether it is reasonable as such but whether the landlord considers it necessary.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for your long reply - I do appreciate it.

      So you are saying that when I have vacated they could send around the surveyor again and add another bill of several hundred pounds to say that I have cleaned up the plastic trunking.

      Is there no proportionality? Is this not part of what they are already paid for as part of their management fee?

      Comment


        #4
        I saw this thread and thought I'd wait for rentreviewspeciaslist to post first! On the whole, surveyors know more about schedules of dilapidations than lawyers.

        The only thing I would add is that if an inspection shows up little or nothing I do not see that any fees can be justified. They certainly ought not to exceed the amount recoverable. £850 for serving the schedule is outrageous. How can than sum be justified for putting the schedule in an envelope with a short letter?

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by DaddyofTwo View Post
          Thanks for your long reply - I do appreciate it.

          So you are saying that when I have vacated they could send around the surveyor again and add another bill of several hundred pounds to say that I have cleaned up the plastic trunking.

          Is there no proportionality? Is this not part of what they are already paid for as part of their management fee?
          I didn't say that or mean to imply it.

          A SoD is about works that need doing as envisaged by the lease. So far, the SoD has not been served which suggests that provided you do the works itemised on the draft before you vacate then chances are it won't be served. Assuming you do do the works and to a standard that would reasonably satisfy )objective test) the landlord (the schedule would state the requirements for each item) an inspection after you have vacated would confirm that the work has been done and you shouldn't/wouldn't be charged for that.

          What I said in my first reply was that the another schedule could be prepared and served after you vacated if the surveyor discovers anything he missed in the first schedule.

          Regarding Lawcruncher's comment about fees ought not to exceed the amount recoverable. That can only be a matter of opinion. a solicitor would probably reason a need to read the documents, liaise with the surveyor, prepare and despatch the covering letter. At £300-£400 an hour, £850 for service is easily justified.

          Currently, acting for a landlord, I am dealing with an SoD on a small shop in North inner London. The surveyor we are using to inspect and prepare the schedule will be charging £850 plus Vat and disbursements and for another £75 plus VAT the surveyor would also serve it.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by rentreviewspecialist View Post
            Regarding Lawcruncher's comment about fees ought not to exceed the amount recoverable. That can only be a matter of opinion. a solicitor would probably reason a need to read the documents, liaise with the surveyor, prepare and despatch the covering letter. At £300-£400 an hour, £850 for service is easily justified.

            Currently, acting for a landlord, I am dealing with an SoD on a small shop in North inner London. The surveyor we are using to inspect and prepare the schedule will be charging £850 plus Vat and disbursements and for another £75 plus VAT the surveyor would also serve it.
            A solicitor may reason like that but it would be a load of old hooey. There is no need for a solicitor to read the SoD as he does not have the professional experience to assess it and the surveyor takes responsibility for it. There is nothing he needs to discuss with the surveyor. Preparing the letter will take no more than five minutes and a secretary will put it an envelope. No legal expertise is engaged.

            The £75 plus VAT the surveyor charges is more like it, but still expensive for putting something in an envelope.

            Comment


              #7
              In a lease to my tenant of a business it was only at the end of the lease that I noticed that there was a clause which said that if I wanted to have done a Schedule of Dilapidations I could charge the Tenant. A firm of Chartered Surveyors quoted £2500. (plus VAT) (there was a lot of small buildings being rented) The tenant had been served with a Notice to Quit and may have wanted to challenge it. In case it was to be challenged I was advised to get a Chartered Surveyor who would also be an Expert Witness. If it went to court.and I needed to say that because the tenant had not maintained the property is the reason I was not wanting to renew the lease.
              In your case, before you leave you could get your own Chartered Surveyor do a condition report in case the landlord wants loads of money for repairs.
              Perhaps £2500 is now a Standard Charge for a days work for a Chartered Surveyor

              Comment


                #8
                A lease may say the landlord can charge for a schedule of dilapidations, but there have to be dilapidations to be scheduled. The fee payable by the tenant should be proportional to the dilapidations found. Say a surveyor is tasked to prepare a schedule for a 20 storey office block and finds only one want of repair, is it reasonable for the tenant to have to pay the surveyor's charge for work which would ave taken several days?

                Comment

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