Have you received a Schedule of Dilapidations? Don’t panic!

Schedule of Dilapidations

It can be a bit of a shock to be served a Schedule of Dilapidations from your landlord, in which they may claim you owe them an eye-watering amount of money.

What is a Schedule of Dilapidations?

A Schedule of Dilapidations relates to claims for damages from the landlord to the tenant, in relation to the physical state of a commercial property at the termination of a tenancy. It sets out what the landlord considers to be the breaches, the works required to remedy those breaches and any relevant costings.

Harrison Clarke are experts in managing Dilapidations claims and we can confidently say to you, based on our years of experience successfully managing and reducing claims, “Don’t panic!”.

The first thing we want to reassure you about is that the figures set out in the Schedule of Dilapidations are not set in stone. The Schedule may look intimidatingly formal and presented as an enforceable claim but, actually, it’s most usually a record of technical breaches of the lease and is the landlord’s way of starting negotiations for a financial settlement, or requesting a fee to complete remedial works before lease end.

a schedule of dilapidations posts through someone's letterbox

Some clients worry that their landlord will take them to court if they don’t pay the initial claim demand. However, the Dilapidations Protocol and the RICS Dilapidations guidance note both set out the process whereby surveyors usually work together to pre-empt the decision the court would take. So, in reality, it is unusual for Dilapidations claims to reach the courts.

If you work with a competent Dilapidations surveyor, they will understand the risks of different approaches and support you in making the right decisions that should ensure your claim stays out of court. 

Appointing a qualified and experienced surveyor who specialises in Dilapidations could be one of the best investments you will ever make.

A couple of cases that spring to mind, where Harrison Clarke successfully negotiated huge reductions for our clients…

One client received a Dilapidations claim for £800,000, which we reduced to £300,000.

Another client received a claim of £510,000, which we reduced to £35,000.

We have even been known to reduce a claim to zero, which meant that our happy client only paid around £1,500 in fees, and not a penny of the £112,000 demand they had received in a Dilapidations claim.

Some clients are reluctant to pay a surveyor to handle their Dilapidations claim. We strongly recommend that you don’t go down this route, and we genuinely say that with your bank balance in mind, not our own bottom line!

We have never known an unrepresented party in Dilapidations to reach a better outcome than they would have done with professional representation and, as we have already explained, we can be talking about a LOT of money. Negotiating your own claim will almost always result in being the most expensive option in the end.

Even spending a couple of hours with a Dilapidations surveyor to run through your claim can highlight areas where certain actions can be taken to reduce or eliminate particular sections of the Dilapidations claim. 

The law surrounding Dilapidations is very complex and is often based on case law which, at first glance, can look like it doesn’t follow common sense. If you choose the right surveyor, they will be familiar with all areas of Dilapidations law and will be able to guide you to the right settlement. 

So, the most important decision you can make when you have received, read and digested your Schedule of Dilapidations, is to find an excellent Dilapidations surveyor. We guarantee that they will pay for themselves many times over.

How do you know you are appointing the right Dilapidations surveyor?

Many surveyors will say that they handle Dilapidations but few really have the in-depth knowledge to be able to effectively assess the landlord’s real loss, compared to their claimed loss.

Don’t be tempted to ask a few Chartered Surveyors for quotes and go for the cheapest option. It could prove to be a very costly mistake. 

Imagine if you were one of the clients we mentioned, and your surveyor didn’t have the expertise to spot issues in the stated claim, let alone negotiate them with the landlord, and you had to pay tens of thousands of pounds – a situation that could have been avoided if you had chosen a specialist surveyor who thoroughly understood the subject matter.

When you are choosing a surveyor to handle your Dilapidations claim, we recommend that you ask them about their experience in defending claims similar to yours, and probe them about their overall experience in the field of Dilapidations.

You should aim to appoint a surveyor who is willing to take the time to explain to you the risk areas of Dilapidations, including potential future outcomes. In almost all cases, there is little certainty in Dilapidations settlements until they have been signed off and fully agreed. 


How long will it take to settle a Dilapidations claim?

At Harrison Clarke, we feel it is important to manage our clients’ expectations and discuss possible timescales with them.

It is impossible to tell how long a Dilapidations claim will take to negotiate although, when we read the claim, we can often give a good indication based on its magnitude and complexity. In our experience, they can take anything from two weeks to two years!

We would normally expect a reasonably straightforward, moderate-sized claim to be agreed in around three to six months. This might sound like quite a long time, but our hands are tied regarding the other side’s surveyor’s response times, and additional information may be required from third parties that will inevitably prolong the process.


Can Harrison Clarke help?

We specialise in Dilapidations, which makes us the ideal choice to handle any Dilapidations claim, large or small. Our team of expert, tenacious and approachable surveyors will be pleased to review your claim and explain your position to you. 

Often, their verdict will be more optimistic than you expected. So, it’s worth you speaking to us sooner rather than later, to avoid you worrying unnecessarily. 


How you can contact Harrison Clarke

Call our friendly, expert and highly qualified surveyors on 023 8155 0051, or email us at info@harrisonclarke.co. We would be delighted to help with your Dilapidations claim queries, or any other surveying needs you have.

At the time of writing, we have a total of 62 reviews across Trustpilot and Google. We are proud to say that they are all 5 star ratings across the board.

Discover something you would like to know more about?

Faye Williams, party wall and building surveyor at Harrison Clarke chartered surveyors.

About the author

Faye Williams,
BSc (Hons) MFPWS Senior

Surveyor & Winner of Young Property Person of the Year 2023

Faye joined Harrison Clarke in 2018. Faye found an interest in Party Wall surveying, and became a Member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors in 2022.

Since then, Faye has set out a revolutionary approach to party wall instructions, by focusing on people and relationships, backed up by expert knowledge. Faye’s approach has saved building owners £1,000s in unnecessary party wall fees.