In almost all commercial tenancies there will be obligations concerning the form and condition of the premises. A failure to comply with such obligations will give rise to a claim for what is commonly known as dilapidations.
For any sizeable dilapidations claim both the landlord and the tenant will appoint professional representatives, usually building surveyors, because of the degree of construction knowledge required. For the dilapidations process to be successful the appointed surveyor must also have a reasonable understanding of the often complex legal principles in this area of law. It is not uncommon for solicitors to be involved in dilapidations claims, perhaps in the formal service of the claim itself, or in the interpretation of the lease covenants. All surveyors must be aware that it is not in their remit to interpret leases – only to understand a lawyer’s interpretation of a lease.
Both the Civil Procedure Rules 1998c(CPR) and the Pre-action Protocol for claims for damages in relation to the physical state of commercial property at the termination of a tenancy (the Dilapidations Protocol) have introduced a stronger framework for the effective resolution of disputes without the need for expensive and time-consuming litigation. Since the formal adoption under court rules of the Dilapidations Protocol the RICS Dilapidations guidance note (6th edition) has been updated.
If you are a tenant facing a claim for dilapidations from a landlord, or a landlord trying to recover your property repair costs from a tenant, then you will need guidance on the legal and practical implications of the repairing covenants in leases. Dilapidations claims arising during or at the end of a leasehold interest can represent a significant and unforeseen cost to either the landlord or tenant, unless proper and timely advice is sought. Legal action can result in one or both parties incurring substantial costs, which may be disproportionate to the original claim. Top quality advice is vital.
At Hamblin Sullivan we aim to resolve any dispute in a timely and cost-effective manner and we have a proven track-record of negotiating dilapidations claims and reaching settlements for both landlords and tenants. Our advice is always given on an impartial and independent basis in accordance with current legal procedures; excessive or unrealistic claims generally fail if eventually subjected to technical and legal scrutiny.
For further advice in respect of dilapidation claims we would be pleased to discuss these with you.