Surveys serve to expose costly legal issues

The primary reason why the majority of our clients obtain a Home Buyers Survey is to find out whether the property they are purchasing is both structurally sound and worth the money they are paying for it.

The benefits don’t end there however – the surveyor can be instrumental in uncovering legal issues, as pointed out in a recent article by Lorraine Imhoff of Homeward Legal.

“Conveyancing Solicitors are expected to leave no stone unturned when carrying out the due diligence on the part of a home buyer. Often this can be challenging as despite having a mountain of paperwork collated about the property, solicitors never actually visit the property and are therefore totally reliant on the accuracy of the documentation”.

Homeward Legal are one of many companies who refer their home buying clients to Surveyor Local. They do so on the basis of the importance we place on the detailed completion of “Section I” of the RICS HomeBuyer Report entitled:

“Issues for your Legal Advisers”

This is the standard section to be completed by the surveyor when carrying out a HomeBuyer Report.

It is there to capture any issues identified during the survey which may be of significance to solicitors during the conveyancing process.

These can be many in number and may have costly implications for the unsuspecting home buyer. These observations can offer vital clues for the solicitor and can include notification of:

  • a conversion to flats with an estimated date of conversion – prompting questions about planning and building regulations approval
  • suspected conservation area breaches – such as unsympathetic replacement windows
  • replacement doors, windows and conservatories – planning and warranty implications
  • evidence of use of the property that might be a breach of the terms of the lease
  • evidence of modifications to the property that may require planning – e.g. conversion of a flat roof into a roof terrace
  • modifications to the property that may require freeholder consent
  • issues relating to boundary repair obligations

Recent renegotiation on Homeward Legal case

A recent survey carried out by one of Surveyor Local’s panel of surveyors on behalf of a Homeward Legal client revealed a list of issues that saved a client from buying a house of horrors.

The property in particular, had a sizeable rear extension that was not visible from the road, was not photographed in the agents particulars, did not have planning consent or Building Regulations approval and did not have necessary consent from the freeholder.

It was the reporting of the extension in Section of the survey that prompted further enquiries from the solicitor.

Any of the parties from whom consent should have been sought could have forced the owner to revert the property to a previous state. This would have resulted in the new owner having to pay for the cost of reversion and worse still face a diminution in value of potentially hundreds of thousands.

Read more about the case at Homeward Legal.

Post Author: Frances Traynor