What Are Dilapidations?

Dilapidations is the term used in English Law for what could be simply called property damage. Property damage discovered by a landlord at the end of a tenancy is called 'leasehold dilapidations'. In many cases, a surveyor will be appointed to facilitate between tenant and landlord, so that both parties can agree the overall costs of remedial work.

A schedule of dilapidations sets out the required works, and associated costs.

Where does the word dilapidations come from?

The term comes from the Latin for scattering the stones (lapides) of a building. In other words, it's in reference to partly or completely destroying a building.

In English law we have adopted and adapted this word to encompass a state of disrepair where responsibility for the 'part destruction' of a building lies with the tenant. Tenancy agreements usually oblige the tenant to leave the building in good repair, excepting normal wear and tear of course.

What are Dilapidations? an RICS surveyors guide to jargon.jpg

Schedule of dilapidations

A schedule of dilapidations sets out the required works, and associated costs, of getting a property back to the state of repair it was promised as at or after the tenancy ends.

A landlord can issue a schedule of dilapidations, outlining the damage done, the remedial work required and all associated costs. For more information on these, please see our Schedule of dilapidations page. 

Dilapidations for tenants

It is the tenant's responsibility to understand their obligations and to assess how valid the schedule of dilapidations is. This will include taking the time to qualify the quoted costs for remedial works. It would be advisable to approach a surveyor with a view to purchase their professional services as their expertise may prove valuable. In many cases, Metcalfe Briggs Surveyors have negotiated a settlement as low as 20-30% of the original costs quoted in the schedule of dilapidations.

If you wish to dispute the cost of dilapidations outlined by your landlord then you may wish to contact a surveyor today.

Dilapidations for landlords

A landlord should be aware that their tenant can challenge each and every point raised in a schedule of condition, with regards to both validity and the cost of remedial work. Negotiations can be complex depending on the wording of the contractual agreement, the nature of the property in question, and the possibility of dispute.

Disputes can be taken to court. In such cases the dilapidations protocol set out by the Ministry of Justice is worth understanding as it came into force on 1st January 2012.

The lease may include clauses whereby if the tenant has breached terms of the lease, you as the landlord can enter the property to undertake remedial work. In serious cases you may consider attempting to regain possession of the property through forfeiture. 

A legal item which may be included under the terms of the lease relates to the right of the landlord to reclaim the lost cost of rent. Specifically for the period in which repairs take place.

Building surveys and a dilapidations schedule

A surveyor is usually the one to prepare a schedule of dilapidations, yet in some cases the landlord may do so themselves. The schedule of dilapidations may schedule repairs, re-decorations and all items which have been breached, with the relevant costs for remedial works included.

Dilapidations protocol for court proceedings

Please refer to the dilapidations protocol set out by the Ministry of Justice which came into force on 1st January 2012.

There is a separate pre-action protocol for housing disrepair cases.

In summary, the dilapidations protocol linked above outlines conduct which the court expects both parties to abide by prior to court proceedings. It involves creating a process and timetable for the exchange of information relevant to disputes, sets a quality required for schedules and quantified demands, and the conduct of negotiations.

The protocol aims to ensure that parties do everything in their power to avoid court proceedings by coming to a settlement beforehand. A settlement is clearly more likely to be reached if all the information is exchanged between both parties in an established and structured manner.

See the below for a visual guide to this. For further information please refer to the dilapidations protocol directly.

Ministry of Justice Annex A to Dilapidations Protocol - Procedure to follow in case of leasehold dilapidations disputes.png


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