Renovation rules

Q.  I am carrying out renovations on my property, a Leasehold and have just been told by the building surveyor acting for the Landlords of the development that I will need to get a ‘Schedule of Condition’ carried out for the apartment beneath me? Shopping around I understand that a surveyor can charge anything from five hundred pounds upward for this report. Obviously, the building work is very expensive and to be hit by another charge which I think seems quite unnecessary given I am not making any structural changes seems unfair. Is this something I really have to do?

A.  A schedule of condition (SOC) is a factual record of the condition of a property, normally prepared for legal or contractual reasons. They create a complete record of the condition of the property in question on a particular date that can be used as a benchmark against which its condition can be assessed in the future and any changes identified. SOC’s may be prepared under the instruction of a landlord as in your case or a tenant, an employer, a contractor, or a neighbour. Appointing an independent expert to prepare a SOC will give it greater weight if there are subsequent claims or negotiations. It may be beneficial to seek agreement of the other party (your neighbour) that the schedule is a fair reflection of the condition of the property when it is prepared. As in your case, a SOC might be prepared before constructionbegins for adjacent properties. This not only helps protect against potential claims from neighbours, who may only begin to notice pre-existing defects in their property when the noise and vibration of construction begins, but can also establish contractor liability for damage to the employer’s property. Typically, schedules of condition are prepared by surveyors and in your case comprise of details of the location and extent of the property being assessed. A general description of the construction of the property. The time, date and weather conditions under which the inspection was made. Drawings of the property. A written schedule setting out the location and nature of each item inspected and its condition and any other remarks. This will describe the overall condition and may identify existing issues such as cracks, staining, holes, decay, discolouration, leaks and other defects, disrepair or deterioration, the report will also include accompanying photographs. Understandably, this is all very frustrating given your other expenditure, but it also serves as a protection for you from the neighbour suddenly blaming you existing issues so it’s not completely without its benefits.

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