Problems with a poor house survey

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Q. I recently purchased a home and had a survey completed which I organised myself. Since moving into the home I have noticed that the roof and heating will need replaced, I believe the surveyor should have picked up on this. What are our rights?

A. If you arranged for your own survey to be carried out and then found you have a problem with the property after you bought it. For example, you found that part of the roof needs replacing. In a case like this, you may be entitled to damages (compensation) from the surveyor for the difference between the value of the property in good condition and its value in bad condition.

However, whether or not the surveyor may be held responsible will depend on whether the survey included information on all the points which the surveyor had agreed to inspect and what is in the report.

For example, the surveyor may be held responsible if they:

l had agreed to inspect the roof but had not included information about it in the report

l said there were no problems with the roof.

On the other hand, it is unlikely that the surveyor will be held responsible if they:

l included details of the problem with the roof in the report

l could not inspect that part of the roof and said so in the report. In this case, it would be your responsibility to arrange for any further investigations that may be necessary because the surveyor was unable to make a full report.

If you want to claim damages from your surveyor, you should write to them saying why you think they are responsible for the money you have lost and giving details of how much you think you have lost.

You may also be able to make a claim for damages for other related costs such as temporary housing because you are unable to live in your property while repairs are carried out.

Your surveyor could say that there was a disclaimer on the report stating that they aren’t liable for faults which are found after the survey has been carried out.

However, your surveyor must carry out a survey with reasonable care and can’t use a disclaimer to avoid this responsibility.

If your surveyor won’t agree to your claim, you may need to go to court.

The circumstances in which a surveyor can be held legally responsible for your financial loss as a result of a survey are limited.

If you want to make a claim against a surveyor, you may need help from an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau or seek legal advice.

If your claim against the surveyor is over £3,000, you may want to consider complaining to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, rather than taking court action.

Complaining about a

surveyor

You can complain to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) if the surveyor is a member. This is one of the professional bodies for chartered surveyors.

You may also be able to complain to the Ombudsman Services: Property. Before you can do this, you must complain to the surveyor’s firm first and give them a chance to sort out the problem.

Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk or for further information go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland.