EPC’s – Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards – MEES

As of April 2018 landlords cannot agree a new lease for a property with an EPC rating of less than grade E.  From 2023 the regulations stipulate that no landlord can have an existing lease in place with a rating of less than grade E.

Whilst there is a soft start to this legislation the 2023 trigger is more onerous and if landlords are caught letting a property with an EPC of less than a grade E then they will be fined and put onto a ‘name and shame register’.  The proposed fines will be punitive and will depend on the property but figures being suggested range from £5000 to £150,000.

Landlords should also be warned that they should not be complacent if their property currently achieves and EPC grade E or above as some may not be accurate.  Whilst EPC’s are not new, historically some have been poorly prepared.  Such EPC’s have included too many assumptions and default values which could have had a negative impact on the EPC results making them inaccurate.  In addition, whilst EPC’s last for 10 years, those currently over 7 years old are typically ignored by legal teams and those over 5 year are deemed to be unreliable.  This is due to the fact  that the algorithms used to calculate the EPC’s have been adjusted to reflect changes in Building Regulations and current industry standards so this impacts on EPC results achieved.  The outcome of such changes is that a property with an EPC grade D prepared over 7 years ago, if retested, may for example only now attain a grade F and fail to achieve the minimum standard.  Such failures to achieve the minimum EPC may not only be because the calculations have changed but also because building elements, in particular building services installations, have become less energy efficient with age which effects the EPC results.

Whilst reaching and EPC grade E is the critical benchmark for the foreseeable future this level may be lifted to a higher grade in years to come.  It is therefore recommended that early consideration be given to plan for the essential works required to achieve the minimum requirements to comply with legislation.

There are exemptions for compliance with the standards but these are limited.  This legislation has significant implications for landlords who are responsible for ensuring their buildings comply with the legislation so early action is advisable.

Commercial Building Survey – Southend on sea, Essex

We were pleased to receive instructions to undertake a commercial building survey of retail unit in the High Street in Southend on sea.  The instruction was referred to us from solicitors on behalf of their Client who was purchasing the freehold interest of an occupied retail unit.  Our Client was looking to acquiring the retail unit for investment purposes.  The property was occupied by a national retailer who had a long lease and the tenant was to remain in occupation thought the acquisition.

The freehold of the retail unit was being sold by auction and the instruction was time critical for the transaction to progress. The building survey of the retail unit was completed within a week of receiving instructions and the commercial building survey report issued a week later.

The commercial building survey was undertaken with the tenant in occupation and the inspection included an inspection and review of all the accessible areas.  These areas included the numerous roof areas, external walls and other external elements, and the internal structure and finishes.  Some of the internal finishes were obscured by the tenants fixtures and fittings and stock items at the time of the inspection.  The inspection also included a review of all the tenants servicing and maintenance documentation to understand and comment upon the tenants maintenance regime.

The commercial building survey report set out the nature and condition of the building.  The building survey report continues by making commentary on the on the defects and also the issues that may have implications on our Client in both the short and long terms following the acquisition of the freehold interest.  These issues raised included physical defects and in addition we also made commentary on the legislation that our Client that would impact his ownership should he successfully acquire the freehold interest of the retail unit.




Commercial Building Survey Report Winchester

Our Client was looking to take the lease of a small retail unit in Winchester High Street.  The propose demised formed the ground floor of a period building which had a separately accessed maisonette above which did not form part of our Clients’ proposed demise.  Due to the age of the building our Client had concerns over their potential liabilities and instructed us to prepare a building survey report to advise on the building, its condition and their potential liabilities.  This instruction was subject to a tight timescale and the inspection was undertaken 2 working days following the confirmation of the instruction and the building survey report issued 3 days after the site survey.

The inspection was undertaken and a number of issues were highlighted to the Client in the building survey report.  These issues included the fact that the period building had been subject to previous structural movement and repair.  Our Clients’ lease was internally repairing and insuring only however we recommended they checked to confirm not only the extent of their demise which would impact on their dilapidations’ obligations under their lease, but also their service charge liabilities.  Leases in multi-let properties often include a service charge to cover the cost of repairs and maintenance of common parts.  Those elements outside of the demised areas are typically managed and repaired by the landlord with the cost of those repairs typically borne by the tenants through their service charge contributions.

The building survey report set out the nature of the demise and in addition to the structural defects also noted areas of damp and fire separation issues between the retail unit and the maisonette above.  In addition to the more critical defects general items of disrepair were highlighted that our Client would need to resolve as part of their shop fit out.

The building survey report enabled our Client to negotiate with the landlord as part of their re-acquisition discussions to limit their future liabilities with regards the pre-existing defects.



Schedule of Dilapidations – Dorking, Surrey

We have received instructions from Property Managers to prepare a Schedule of Dilapidations on behalf of their Client, the Landlord of the property.

The property is a retail unit in the centre of Dorking and the lease is due to expire in 2 weeks therefore the Tenant is keen to understand their lease liabilities.  The Tenant proposes to undertake some of the works included in the Schedule of Dilapidation’s if possible prior to the lease end at which point they are required to yield up the property to the Landlord.  In the event any items included in the Schedule of Dilapdiations are not completed by the Tenant prior to the lease end then a agreement with the Landlord will need to be negotiated and a financial settlement reached to cover the cost of those outstanding items.

To prepare the Schedule of Dilapidations we reviewed the lease and have arranged to undertake an inspection to ascertain the condition of the property and take necessary measurements and details to allow us to schedule out the reinstatement, repairs, redecorations and statutory obligations in accordance with the lease requirements.  These items of claim are then costed and included in the Schedule of dilapidations which forms the Landlords Claim against the Tenant.

We advise both Landlords and Tenants on Schedule of Dilapidations and would always recommend that dilapidations advice is sought in good time prior to the end of a lease to allow all parties to plan for, and reach a settlement on, a dilapidation’s claim.



Party Wall Award for Loft Conversion Sutton

We are pleased to have been appointed to by the owner of a residential property to agree a party wall award on their behalf.  Our appointing owner,(the adjoining owner under the terms of the Party Wall etc Act 1996) had received a party wall notice from their neighbour (the building owner) setting out the building owners intention to undertake a loft conversion which had implications on the shared party wall between the two semi-detached houses.

The proposed loft conversion works included enclosing on a raised section of party wall which our appointing owner had built and paid for when they undertook a similar loft conversion 10 years ago.  There were discussions held with the building owners surveyor over the cost of the wall and it was agreed the the party wall award would include a payment by the building owner to the adjoining owner for enclosing on the raised section of wall that the adjoining owner had previously paid for.

The party wall award is being prepared and will include a schedule of condition of the adjoining owners property, which clearly records the condition of the adjoining owners house before the works commence so in the event any damage is caused during the works, the damage is clearly identifiable.  The schedule of condition was undertaken jointly by ourselves and the building owners’ surveyor.  The draft party wall award is currently awaited and upon its agreement the party wall award will be published to the building and adjoining owners.  In this instance, as is typically the case where the adjoining owner is gaining no benefit from the proposed works, our fees acting for the adjoining owner will be met by the building owner who is undertaking the works and who instigated the party wall process.

Once the party wall award is published each owner will have 14 days to raise any objections to the party wall award and once this period has expired the building owner will be at liberty to commence the works in line with the condition set out in the party wall award.






Reinstatement Cost Assessment – London

We recently undertook a building survey for a Client who was purchasing a high value house in St Johns Wood, London.  Following the successful exchange of contracts our Client has instructed us to prepare a reinstatement cost assessment of the property for insurance purposes.  The reinstatement cost assessment is required in preparation of our Client completing on the purchase from which point he will be liable for the insurance of the building.

Following receipt of the instruction we have arranged to revisit the property to take accurate measurements of the house for use in calculating the rebuild cost of the property.  The reinstatement cost assessment will then be prepared taking into account the size and construction of the property which is Grade 2 listed and a report setting out the values and what is included in the assessment will be issued to our Client.

It is important to ensure that reinstatement cost assessments are accurate and they should be checked every few years to make sure that any building is correctly insured.  Insurance companies typically index link reinstatement costs year on year however over time those figures can become distorted and inaccurate.  Reinstatement cost assessments should be reviewed annually and whilst index linking values is accepted for a couple of years, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) advise that reinstatement cost assessments are carried out at least every three years or whenever there are any material changes made to the building.

Commercial Building Survey – Coulsdon, Surrey

Our Client, an investor, is looking to buy the freehold interest of a commercial property in Coulsdon, Surrey.  In contemplation of the purchase our Client has confirmed instructions for us to undertake a commercial building survey of the property and prepare a commercial building survey report.

The property comprises a detached building housing 3 commercial units to the ground floor, one of which is a restaurant with the other 2 being retail units.  There is a residential flat on the first floor.

The purchase of the freehold is being progressed quickly and we have received confirmation to undertake the commercial building survey within a few days of the receipt of the instruction.  We are please to have been able to accommodate our Clients requirements for a commercial building survey to be undertaken at short notice to ensure that the timescales on our Clients’ deal are achieved.

The commercial building survey will cover all the commercial and residential units within the property to include the internal and external areas of the building. We will inspect, review and comment upon the nature of the building and the condition of the elemental parts so that our Client has a good understanding of the potential defects and liabilities they will be acquiring.  The commercial building survey report will also include commentary on statutory requirements that the our Client needs to be aware of should they acquire the freehold interest.



Dilapidations – Brighton

We are pleased to have just received an instruction to review and advise upon a Schedule of Dilapidations served on our Client who is the Tenant of a retail unit in Brighton.

Our Clients’ lease is due to expire at the end of September and our Client has recently received a Schedule of Dilapidations from their landlord which was prepared by their landlords surveyors referencing our Clients’ lease obligations.  The dilapidations claim set out in the Schedule of Dilapidations is extensive and includes items of reinstatement, repair, redecoration and statutory requirements along with professional fees incurred by the landlord and other costs.  Our Client is concerned at the level of the sum being claimed from them for the commercial unit.

Our instructions from our Client are to review the lease and licence documentation, undertake a site inspection, review and report on the Schedule of Dilapidations served on them.  In considering the dilapidations claim we will comment upon the validity of the elements of the claim and also the costs being claimed for those element.  In addition to commentary on the elements of claim and their costs, we will provide strategic advice on the claim, setting out our Clients options and how to achieve the most cost effective resolution for our Client.  There is still 2 months of the lease left to run and we will therefore advise our Client on their position and what action we would recommend they take.  The options available to a tenant are to undertake the works prior to the lease expiry, agree a financial settlement with the landlord or a combination of the two.


Party Wall Notice

Property owners are often unfamiliar with party wall issues and the procedures that they should follow if they receive a notice from a neighbour.  The following are typical questions raised when a party wall notice is received:

Q. If you receive a party wall notice for works your neighbour is looking to do what should you do?

A. You should respond. The Party Wall etc ACT 1996 sets out timescales for the service of the party wall notices and the required response times from adjoining owners.  Once a party wall notice is served by a building owner doing the works the the adjoining owner has 14 days in which to respond.  Failure to do so and you as the adjoining owner will have deemed to have dissented to the works and will be requested to appoint a surveyor to act on your behalf or concur the appointment of the building owners’ surveyor who will prepare a Party Wall Award.

Q. The party wall notice says do you consent or dissent to the works, what are the implications of each?

A.  If you consent to the works, the building owner has the right to commence the works without the need to prepare a Party Wall Award.  If you dissent to the works that means that you will need to concur the appointment of the building owners’ surveyor or appoint your own surveyor to act for you.  Dissenting to a party wall notice does not give you any rights to object to the works, that is a planning issue, but sets out that you require a Party Wall Award.  The Party Wall Award sets out the works being undertaken in relation to the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and also include a schedule of condition of your property before the works commence.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 is intended to protect both the adjoining owners and building owners when works in accordance with the Act are undertaken and should you require further advice on this matter please contact us.




Building Survey

We are pleased to announce we are undertaking a commercial building survey of an office building in Manor Royal near Crawley, West Sussex today.

Our Client is looking to acquire the lease of the ground floor of the property and in accordance with his solicitors recommendations has instructed us to undertake an inspection and prepare a building survey report. The instruction was confirmed by our Client yesterday and due to our Clients’ tight timescales we have been requested to prioritise the instruction.  We are therefore delighted that we have been able to respond to those requirements and we have arranged to undertake the inspection of the office today to carry out the building survey with the building survey report to be issued next week.

Our building survey will include the elements within the demised office areas together with those in the landlords’ and common parts, for which our Client will have a liability via the service charge. The inspection will cover, and the building survey report include commentary on, the condition of the building along with the statutory requirements which have implications on our Clients’ occupation both practically and financially.

We understand that instructions to undertake an inspection and prepare a building survey report are often time critical during the acquisition of a lease or freehold interest of a property. We pride ourselves on being responsive to our Clients requirements and deliver our instructions to accommodate our Clients needs and meet their timescales.