Claims against Surveyors – Professional Negligence
When you instruct a surveyor you expect that the surveyor is sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced to undertake the task. If the surveyor makes a mistake or omission this can cause you to suffer a financial loss.
Surveyors are construction industry professionals who train for many years to ensure that their skill and knowledge base is second to none.
All surveyors owe their clients a duty of care and they are regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which requires strict minimum standards of professional conduct and client care.
If you have been let down and you believe that you have suffered a financial loss relating to their mistake or omission, you may be able to claim for damages based on their act of surveyor negligence.
What is surveyor negligence?
Most claims arising from surveyor negligence are based on the principle that the standard of care fell below that of a reasonably competent surveyor. This constitutes negligence.
In instances where you have not directly instructed the surveyor to carry out the work – for example, if they have been hired as part of a mortgage valuation – you could still have a case for a lack of care being taken. This could also mean that they have been negligent.
What are the different types of surveyor negligence?
There are various circumstances that can be classed as potentially being a case of surveyor negligence. Having a clear understanding of the most common instances when this could be the case can be the most useful first step towards knowing whether you could potentially have a successful claim.
However, you won’t have to pursue your claim on your own. When you speak to us here at Been Let Down, we’ll work closely with you to decide your next steps.
Some of the most common types of surveyor negligence are:
Incorrect valuations (overvaluations)
If a surveyor has provided an incorrect overvaluation of a property at the time of purchase, this can be financially devastating, resulting in you overpaying for a property which in real terms is worth less than the purchase price. And you may not have even instructed the surveyor personally; your lender may have done this.
Overvaluations are commonplace these days, with pressures put on surveyors by lenders to complete the transaction as quickly as possible, which can lead to mistakes that are deemed to be surveyor negligence.
Generally, there will be no contract between you and the surveyor, as the lender (bank/mortgage provider) would have appointed the surveyor on your behalf. However, this should not deter you from pursuing a claim in negligence.
The courts have ruled that a third-party who places reliance on a statement made in the course of a transaction is owed a duty of care by the professional making the statement. Therefore, the surveyor who has been negligent cannot argue there is no contractual relationship between you and themselves as a defence to a professional negligence claim.
It can be difficult to prove that your property has been overvalued. The housing market is extremely unpredictable at times. There are good and bad times and this affects the value of properties.
Whether you’re buying a home or investing in a buy-to-let property, we can support you with your potential claim. When assessing whether you have a claim against a surveyor, for negligence due to overvaluing your property, we do so on the following:
- The purchase price of the property and the general value of similar homes in the area
- If the purchase price was more than the average or similar homes in the area is there a good reason for this?
- Taking into account previous sale evidence in the area, did that evidence demonstrate that the surveyor’s valuation report was totally inaccurate?
If you ask yourself those questions and conclude that the surveyor has been negligent in their valuation report and you relied upon that report, you may have a claim for damages.
Failure to identify or report on subsidence
If you have instructed a surveyor to prepare a survey report on a property, they will check to see whether the property is on firm ground to rule out the possibility of subsidence. This is carried out as a standard part of the survey.
Subsidence can be a major problem for any homeowner as it almost certainly diminishes the value of the property, which could lead to the homeowner being in a negative equity position if a mortgage was taken out to purchase the property. Many factors can cause subsidence to occur, the main one being foundations being laid on soft clay soils.
We must be able to prove that a competent surveyor would have discovered the subsidence and that you placed reliance upon the survey report when purchasing the property. In other words, if you had the knowledge that the property was subject to subsidence, then you would not have purchased the property.
Failure to inspect a property properly
This is a very common complaint made against surveyors. Such complaints are specific in nature, such as failure to inspect the roof to ensure that the joists are of sound construction. Another complaint and potential example of surveyor negligence may be that the surveyor has failed to inspect parts of the property that they should have inspected, and failed to discover defects, for example problems with dry rot, woodworm, and defects in the structural walls and roof.
For example, in Ryb v Conway Chartered Surveyors and others  (unreported), the court ruled that a surveyor employed to carry out a survey on a property had not identified that Japanese knotweed was growing, and had not mentioned its presence in the report. This was deemed to be negligence on the part of the surveyor.
It’s worth noting here that liability and duty upon the surveyor in these circumstances will very much on the type of survey (Condition Report, Homebuyer Report or Building Survey) they were instructed to undertake. In most cases, a limited survey would have been requested, and in this circumstance, the surveyor may argue that their duties were limited to their instructions. Even though this may be the case, the surveyor may not escape liability as the court will take into consideration the facts of the case.
Insufficient knowledge or experience
If you have instructed a surveyor, you are entitled to expect that the surveyor is sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced to undertake the task that they were instructed to perform. If the surveyor goes beyond their expertise, then you may have a claim for surveyor negligence against them.
We must be clear that we are not able to assist you if the service you received was simply poor; you must have suffered a financial loss. For cases of poor service with no financial loss, you may be able to submit a formal complaint. Take a look at our FAQ section for further information.
We’re experts at surveyor negligence compensation claims
Do you think you could be eligible to make a surveyor negligence claim? If so, get in touch and we will talk you through the claims process. Alternatively, you can make an online enquiry, call us or ask for a call back at a time that works for you.
Someone from our qualified team will find out more about your case and assess your chances of making a successful claim. From there, our surveyor negligence solicitors will be able to help. Strict time limits apply, so the sooner you speak to us, the sooner we can handle your claim.
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Get in touch today and find out how we can help with your case for surveyor negligence compensation.