Dilapidations: is it better to settle out of court?

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Dilapidations are complex agreements, and disputes between landlords and their tenants are common. Significant amounts of money can be involved in leasehold liability settlements, and unless both parties know exactly where they stand, amicable conclusions can often remain elusive. In some instances where Dilapidations are particularly hotly disputed, the matter may even need to be settled in court. Is it in your interests to pursue legal action, however, or should you endeavour to reach a more amicable agreement? Find out more about the process of settling dilapidations disputes with the help of our expert chartered building surveyor advice.

Settling out of court

Fortunately, the majority of dilapidations will be settled out of court. Dilapidations agreements are written into tenancy contracts before they’re signed, so most tenants of commercial properties will understand what is expected of them once they occupy their new premises. Should those tenants alter your property in any way, through accidental damage, refurbishment or redecoration for example, they will be required to restore said property to its original state. Most tenants will be amenable to such agreements, and only very occasionally is there cause for any dispute. Bradley-Mason LLP has an excellent track record of settling claims out of court and before lease termination, allowing both Landlords and Tenants the chance to secure fair and reasonable settlements.

 

Taking legal action

When disputes do occur, however, they can be fiendishly difficult to resolve. If you have a dilapidations agreement in place and your tenants have altered the property through direct actions of their own, you’ll be in a strong legal position to ensure that they fulfil their obligations and pay to have your property restored. Problems arise, however, when damage occurs to your property that could conceivably have come about through no fault of the tenant’s. For example, cracks in interior walls may have occurred due to poor maintenance or as a result of refurbishment, but they may also have been called by subsidence, age or other natural actions. If you can’t agree between you who is liable for the damage, you may need to take the matter to court.

Needless to say, a courtroom battle is the last thing you need in this instance. If you take your tenants to court and lose, not only will you have to end up paying to repair the damage to your property anyway, but you’ll have to cover your legal fees and perhaps those of your tenants too. On top of this, a courtroom dispute can often damage a landlord’s reputation and make new tenants harder to come by. Many of these same points hold true in reverse for tenants disputing claims too.

Steps you can take

It is possible to avoid such trauma, however, and settle your dilapidations out of court. First, it’s important to ensure that the dilapidations agreement in your tenancy contract is clear and legally binding, leaving your tenants no wiggle room with which to exploit your lack of preparation. When your lease is due to expire, call on Bradley-Mason LLP’s Dilapidations Surveys to help resolve the matter as quickly as possible. In the last twelve months we have settled 75% of all landlord claims within the first three months. If you’re anticipating a lengthy dilapidations dispute between yourself and your tenants, contact us and find out how we can help save you money and time this year.

 

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