A landlord can enforce the repairing clauses of a lease through a Schedule of Dilapidations. This is a document prepared by the landlord's surveyor, identifying items of disrepair where the tenant has failed to comply with the repairing clauses and specifying the work necessary to bring the property back into repair.
During a lease the landlord may serve an Interim Schedule of Dilapidations identifying any disrepair which if not remedied immediately may lead to deterioration in the fabric or structure of the building eg such as a leaking roof.
Towards the end of a lease the landlord can serve a Terminal Schedule of Dilapidations requiring the tenant to put the property back into a satisfactory state of repair by the expiry date. If the tenant is not renewing the lease this may also include the removal of any fixtures and fittings provided by the tenant or reinstatement of any alterations undertaken by the tenant.
Both types of Schedule are usually served by the landlord's solicitor together with a Notice under section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925.
The tenant may dispute part or the entire schedule, particularly if the lease is subject to a Schedule of Condition and surveyors acting for both parties will negotiate and agree the extent of the repairs to be carried out.
If the tenant does not carry out the work, the landlord can sue the tenant for breach of covenant. In the event that the landlord intends to refurbish or redevelop the property then special rules apply which could affect the tenant's liability. There is also a limit to a landlord's claim which should reflect the reduction in value of the landlord's interest and a formal valuation may be required which is known as a “section 18” valuation (section 18 Landlord & Tenant Act 1927).
Our professionally qualified surveyors can prepare Schedules of Dilapidations for landlords and if necessary formulate claims for damages. We also act for tenants in minimising their liabilities and were involved in what is now the leading case on the reduction in value of the landlord's interest point (Ultraworth v General Accident) where the tenant's liability was totally extinguished.
Tenants should consider taking professional advice before signing a lease that imposes full repairing obligations on a property that is in poor repair or if served with a schedule. The cost can be a fraction of the potential liability at the end.
If you wish to serve a schedule or one has been served on you then you should deal with this promptly as The Dilapidations Protocol (prepared by the Property Litigation Association) suggests that delay can bring about cost implications.