The services of a surveyor are not only required when buying residential or commercial property, but also when deciding on renovations to an existing property – or when there is a maintenance or structural issue with a property, such as damp or a disrepair issue between a landlord and tenant.
A surveyor’s report can form the basis of property transfer as well as litigation over property – and when a surveyor has failed to spot a defect in a property, or has given negligent property valuations, a client can not only find themselves out-of-pocket, but there may be a serious issue with a property which can be dangerous.
In any error in homebuyer’s report – which is not a structural survey – it is crucial to establish whether the surveyor was instructed to carry out a structural survey to assess whether negligence has occurred.
There may also be many reasons why a skilled professional such as a surveyor might make an error in a property survey, apart from human error.
For example, in a surveyor’s report relating to a property dispute, a surveyor may “understate” a property issue such as damp or water ingress or attribute it to condensation because they have been instructed by a landlord or managing agent in a litigious situation against a tenant or leasehold homeowner.
Surveyors have a duty of care to their clients – for example, a valuation by a surveyor for a mortgage is not an in-depth structural survey, but a surveyor would be expected to point out any potential problems that might affect the structure or value of a property. A full-structural survey might be recommended as a result of any potential issues with a property in a home report.
Timing can also be an issue with surveys – if a survey is needed quickly by a client and a surveyor has been instructed as such but fails to deliver the report on time, this might constitute grounds for making a claim for negligence if loss occurs as a result of the delay.
Clients who suffer financial loss or other loss as a result of a surveyor who is negligent should first make a complaint through the surveyor’s own complaints handling procedure (CHP).
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) also has a limited complaints and dispute resolution service.
Clients considering suing a surveyor for professional negligence have six years from the date of the event constituting negligence – or three years from the date they first realised negligence had occurred – in which to make a claim.
Assessing damages in cases of surveyor’s negligence can be complicated because fluctuations in the property market may be taken into consideration when assessing damages – or a case for surveyor’s negligence may rely on whether a buyer would have proceeded with a property purchase had an issue been flagged up in a survey.
Because of the complexity of taking legal action against a surveyor, Duncan Lewis professional negligence solicitors advise clients whose surveyor has let them down to get in touch as soon as an issue with a property surveyor occurs for an assessment of their case.
Duncan Lewis is a leading firm of claims solicitors and has its own internal property department with access to legal experts who can advise on suing a surveyor for negligence. Duncan Lewis professional negligence solicitors can also instruct leading surveyors as expert witnesses in a case of surveyor’s negligence, if required.
Duncan Lewis offers Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) funding to clients making professional negligence claims, with a fixed fee for the initial client meeting and assessment of the claim, so our clients know in advance what they will be paying.
If you are a homebuyer or commercial company whose surveyor has:
and you suffered loss as a result, call Duncan Lewis Professional Negligence Solicitors for more information about making a compensation claim on 020 7923 4020.