Pre-Action Protocol and Building Regulations Update

Dilapidations Pre-Action Protocol

The Dilapidations Pre-Action Protocol (or simply ‘The Protocol’ to most surveyors) was first published in spring 2002 by the Property Litigation Association. The Protocol was endorsed by the RICS as best practice and annexed to the RICS Guidance Note in the same year. The aim of the Protocol is to try and reduce the amount of Dilapidations cases that go to court by setting out standards of pre action conduct for terminal dilapidations claim for both Landlord’s surveyors and Tenant’s surveyors.

There have been some who over the years have stated that the Protocol has no teeth because it was not a formal protocol under the Civil Procedure Rules but this is about to change. The Civil Procedure Rule Committee has now agreed to formal adoption and this will occur on the 1st January 2012.

Generally, Protocol compliance is the responsibility of your surveyor. However one item for Landlords to note is the timescale for service of the Schedule of Dilapidations. The Protocol states that a reasonable time to serve the Schedule is within 56 days after the termination of the tenancy. As such, we recommend that if you are considering serving a Schedule of Dilapidations upon a tenant you should be taking advice prior to lease termination.

The revised Protocol and Guidance Note are yet to be published but we understand that the changes are minor and are likely to have little effect on how our client’s matters are dealt with. CHPK has since it’s first publication voluntarily complied with the Protocol when dealing with Dilapidations.

Building Regulations Update

Most people working in property will be aware of the huge number of changes to Building Regulations in recent years particularly to Part L. (Conservation of Fuel & Power) and many more are on the way.

The Department for Communities & Local Government plan to update the following Approved Documents (Parts) in the next 2 years:

Part A – Structure
Part C – Resistance to Contamination and Moisture
Part F – Ventilation
Part L – Conservation of Fuel and Power
Part H – Drainage and Waste Disposal
As ever, due to the political importance of environmental issues it is likely to be the changes to Part L that are the most far reaching. Although the exact changes are unknown we can guarantee that the requirements will become more onerous rather than less. It certainly may be worth considering expediting any planned works before changes come into place if you think any of these areas set to change will affect you.

Reinstatement Cost Assessments (known as Fire Insurance Valuations to most)

A recent survey by Barrett Corp & Harrington Ltd. found that in nearly 75% of Reinstatement Cost Assessments the building was found to be underinsured. Of those underinsured properties the average increase needed to be 68%.

It is due to such concerns that the RICS revised their Practice Standards guidance note this year. The revised guidance note places much more emphasis on providing a completely individual and bespoke Assessment to each and every building rather than simply applying a ‘rate’ to the gross internal floor area. More emphasis is placed upon visiting each building and therefore the ‘desk based review’ is discouraged as it simply does not allow the surveyor to fully appreciate the properties of the building.

It is important that surveyors comply with these guidance notes. They are key to making sure that the client is receiving the best possible advice.