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JGM
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
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Experience:  30 years experience in property law.
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We leased a floor of an office block on a 10 year under lease

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We leased a floor of an office block on a 10 year under lease from a company who was downsizing. The lease is not full insuring and repairing and we are only responsible for internal maintenance.
The other company have given notice to the head landlord and determined the lease after 5 years so we need to move out. We have been presented with a Schedule of Dilapidations by the other company which is asking us to carry out works/pay for a lot of things that were in place or in the same condition when we took possession of the floor. This seems mad as it is fairly certain that the head landlord will either turn the property into residential or knock it down and redevelop the site.
We realise now that we should have had a Schedule of Condition at the start of the lease but no-one pointed this out. We used a solicitor and even had a report on the lease from her but no mention was ever made about protecting ourselves with a SoC. We didn't have a survey as we weren't responsible for the structure of the building.
We are being asked to remove partitions that were already there and repair/replace windows where the double glazing had got condensation inside which have always been like it. Obviously all these changes will then incur costs in making good.
Questions:
Most importantly wasn't the solicitor supposed to advise us of this type of issue and protect us by pointing out we needed an SoC? What's our redress?
Without a SoC how do we argue against paying for items that were in situ or the same condition when we moved in? Do we need a solicitor or a surveyor?
What happens if we don't do the work or pay them to do it? Do they sue us?
What happens if we pay the other company for the work they carry it out and then the building is knocked down?
What happens if we pay the other company for the work then they don't carry it out and the building is knocked down?
Thanks
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  JGM replied 2 years ago.
Most importantly wasn't the solicitor supposed to advise us of this type of issue and protect us by pointing out we needed an SoC? What's our redress?
A. I don't know what the terms of your remit to your solicitor was at the time. Typically a solicitor would give general advice on the various ways in which a commercial lease can be structured and I certainly would advise clients to restrict their liability for repairs by using a schedule of condition, assuming the landlord is agreeable to that. You have to consider what the solicitor was instructed to do at the time. As a general rule a solicitor would in the interests of good practice raise the issue of a Schedule of Condition if the lease was to be full repairing and insuring. With an internals lease it may have been considered unnecessary at the time. If you consider that your solicitor didn't fully advise you on the implications of the lease you may have a right to make a claim for you losses against the solicitor. In passing I would comment that in many Schedules of Dilapidation I have seen, the landlord includes items that are not relevant to the tenants liability under the lease. As I go on to say below, your lease is the key to your liability.
Without a SoC how do we argue against paying for items that were in situ or the same condition when we moved in? Do we need a solicitor or a surveyor?
A. What does your lease say about the condition in which you are to hand the premises back? Often the standard is higher than the condition you took the premises on, such as "good and tenantable" even if it wasn't in that condition at the start of the lease. The lease may also provide for tenants fixtures to be removed even if they were there before you moved in. The lease has to be examined by a solicitor in the first instance to see if your liability under the lease is accurately reflected in the Schedule of Dilapidations.
What happens if we don't do the work or pay them to do it? Do they sue us?
A. If your liability isn't carried through, yes, they can sue you for the costs you are due to pay under the lease.
What happens if we pay the other company for the work they carry it out and then the building is knocked down?
A. What the landlord subsequently does with the property is irrelevant. Bizarre as it may seem, a landlord can, if the lease allows it, charge dilapidations if the contract of lease provides for it, and then knock the building down.
What happens if we pay the other company for the work then they don't carry it out and the building is knocked down?
A. As above.
Remember that your liability is a matter of contract. The contract is your lease. You have to read it or get your solicitor to do so to find out precisely what your liability is.
I hope this helps. Please leave a positive feedback so that I am credited for my time.
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10911
Experience: 30 years experience in property law.
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