Freeholder's surveyor wants to charge me £160+VAT/hr for their travel.

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    Freeholder's surveyor wants to charge me £160+VAT/hr for their travel.

    Hi,

    I'm renovating my flat, which involves structural changes. The freeholder appointed a building surveyor to issue Licence To Alter and to monitor my project.

    Upon the issuance of Licence to Alter, it says they expect to arrange 4 monitor visits, estimated 1.5hr each, and charge £160+VAT/hr. So total 6hrs.

    However on each visit they only spent less than 5 minutes, took a few photos and left. Now I received an invoice asking for payment of 7.5hr fees, as they added the cost of writing emails, reports and answering phone calls, etc.

    I challenged the hour they spent on the monitoring visits, they said the billable hours includes travel time but refused to provide a breakdown of travel time and actual time spent on site. On their fee proposal, there is no clear indication whether I'm liable to pay for their travel, let alone at £160+VAT/hr. Also on their fee proposal, they said any increase of the estimated time spent will be communicated in advance, but there's no communication on that. I just received the invoice after all monitoring visits are done.

    At the moment, I have £5000 deposited at Freeholder's building managing agent as a damage deposit. I need the building surveyor to issue a 'completion certificate' before I can get my deposit back, and the building surveyor demands payment of such 7.5hr fees before the issuance of completion certificate.

    So the amount of money in dispute is around £500-700. Not a big sum but very disgusting. What should I do? Pay now so that I get my damage deposit back, and challenge later? Or start a formal complaint process? Engage with a service charge dispute solicitor now? Any suggestions are welcome! thanks.


    Patrick

    #2
    Pay up IIWY. It's just another cost of the renovations, which you can offset against tax when you sell.
    To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

    Comment


      #3
      Another landlord rip off.

      Wonder how much they will get back as a finders free

      Comment


        #4
        I agree that it is a rip off and that the freeholder will probably receive a percentage,

        You will need to pay something before the certificate will be issued. I suggest that you make an offer but if it is not accepted, you may need to pay the full amount under protest.

        Whether or not you can formally complain and to whom is another matter, It does not appear to be a service charge, it may be regarded as an administration charge if it has been issued by the freeholder. Alternatively you may have employed the surveyor directly in which case you would complain to him and his governing body, The estimate is vague and unsatisfactory. It is unclear what exactly you are being asked to agree to. It seems to leave the option to increase the number of visits, the time and the charge per hour. It does not state whether or not other time may be charged as well, No doubt the freeholder and/or surveyor will argue that you have agreed to pay up to 6 x £160 plus VAT. It would depend on other exchanges between you and the freeholder at the time and if you can produce correspondence.

        Comment


          #5
          Get a mate to ask them to quote for a similar job and see what they say about travelling.

          Comment


            #6
            I'm not the building surveyor's client. On the fee proposal, it clearly says the fees they charge me is an administrative charge. Further more, it says:

            Our formal appointment will be between us and the Landlord (the Client), albeit that payment of our fees will be from the Leaseholder proposing to undertake the works. Our invoices will therefore be addressed to the Landlord, payable by the Leaseholder applying for Licence.

            However, on the fee proposal, it also has a specific section for disbursements. It says:

            Where necessary or upon your direction certain payments may be required on your behalf (“disbursements”).

            These may include for example Planning and Building Regulation fees, hire of specialist access facilities or specialist consultant charges. Disbursement payments made on your behalf will be included in your invoice as a separate item, or we may request you to make payment direct. No such charges or payments will be incurred on your behalf without your prior approval.

            Expenses will be charged in addition to the fee at net cost and may include:

            • Printing and photocopying;
            • Postage, couriers etc;
            • Travel, including mileage @ 0.45p/mile;



            Therefore, I'm only liable to reimburse their travel cost at 0.45p/mile, obviously not 160+VAT/hour - is that right?

            Comment


              #7
              How far has the surveyor travelled? Were you aware where he was based before you agreed to pay the cost? That was the time to ask for a local surveyor to be appointed.

              I suggest again that you ask the surveyor to accept an offer in full and final settlement of the charge. It looks like you have agreed to pay for 6 hours time at £160 plus VAT per hour. You may be able to argue that you should have been informed and you should have been asked to authorise any additional time. It is unclear if you have been charged expenses in addition to the hourly rate.

              The freeholder has made it difficult for you to raise a formal complaint, it will be argued that you are not a party to the contract which is between the freeholder and the surveyor and the freeholder is not making a charge to you. Also if your only objection is to 1.5 hours charge, it would not be worthwhile making a formal complaint.

              Comment

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