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The term Dilapidations is normally used to cover defects or disrepair which you as tenant will be required to deal with or pay to have remedied when you vacate the premises that you have leased.

Before you take a lease a Condition Survey will establish the condition of the premises, giving an indication of work that may be needed, both immediately and later. Most commercial leases require the tenant to put and keep the property in repair and unless you and the landlord specifically agree otherwise, the fact that the premises were in a poor condition when you took them on is irrelevant, you will still have to put them right.

The Condition Survey may help you negotiate a lower rent to compensate for costs that you face or alternatively, persuade the landlord to agree that the premises be returned at the end of the lease in a condition similar to the state in which you took them. After you have had the premises surveyed, make sure that the Schedule of Condition is attached to the lease.

At the end of the lease a Dilapidations Survey will confirm that all maintenance works have been carried out as outlined within the lease agreement.

In dilapidations, surveyors are most commonly instructed as advisors. Occasionally, dilapidations claims are taken to court and surveyors may find that their role as an advisor turns into that of an Expert Witness – or a surveyor may be instructed as an expert witness from the outset.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need to starting thinking about dilapidations?

Generally speaking, landlords do not serve dilapidations claims earlier than three years before the end of the lease. If you, as tenant, have a statutory right to a new lease, the landlord probably will not serve a dilapidations claim unless or until you indicate that you are unlikely to renew your lease.

What happens if I have made alterations to the property?

This depends on the terms of the lease and any licences that the landlord granted you to make alterations. On granting consent for alterations the landlord probably required that at the end of the lease you restore the property to its original state if requested to do so. Therefore, unless the landlord thinks your alterations have added value, you will probably be required to reinstate the property at the end of the lease or pay the cost.

The exception is if neither the lease nor the licence for alterations gives the landlord the option of requesting reinstatement.

Do I have to accept the landlords dilapidations claim in full?

No, do not accept it without taking professional advice. The cost may be inflated or the claim may include items which are not valid items of disrepair. Also, there is the possibility that the landlord may not in fact intend to repair the property and in this situation you would have a good defence against the claim.

What if I can’t reach a compromise withe the landlord?

If you cannot reach agreement, the landlord has recourse to the court. But this is a slow process and expensive for both sides. Landlords will generally avoid it if they can. Consult your solicitor as well as your chartered surveyor if things look like taking this course - in a court hearing your chartered surveyor will be able to act as an expert witness on your behalf.


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