CLINICAL & PROFESSIONAL
NEGLIGENCE EXPERTS
 

Claims against Surveyors - Professional Negligence

Claims against Surveyor Negligence

Surveyors are construction industry professionals who train for many years to ensure that their skill and knowledge base is second to none.

Surveyors are regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who require strict minimum standards of professional conduct and client care. All surveyors owe their clients a duty of care.

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.

If you have ‘been let down’ by a surveyor and you consider that you have suffered a financial loss relating to the surveyor’s negligent act or omission, you may be able to claim for damages.

Incorrect valuations (overvaluations)

If a surveyor has provided an incorrect over-valuation 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 undertaken this.

Over-valuations are commonplace these days, with pressures put on surveyors by lenders to complete the transaction as quickly as possible, which can lead to negligent mistakes.

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.

Has your property been overvalued?

This can be difficult to prove. The housing market is extremely unpredictable at times. There are good times and bad times, thereby affecting the value of the housing market.

When assessing whether you have a professional negligence claim against a surveyor for overvaluing your property, whether buying a buy to let or personal purchase, we will consider the following:

  1. The purchase price of the property and the general value of similar homes in the area
  2. If the purchase price was more than the average or similar homes in the area is there a good reason for this?
  3. 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 as a matter of course, check to see whether the property is on firm ground, to rule out the possibility of subsidence.

Subsidence can be a major problem for any homeowner as it almost certainly diminishes the equity and the value of 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 may be that the surveyor has failed to access or uncover parts of the property to discover defects, such has not inspecting under carpets/floorboards, dry rot, woodworm, and defects in the structural walls and roof.

Liability and duty upon the surveyor in these circumstances will very much depend on the type of 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 his duties were limited to his/her 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 which he/she was instructed to perform. If the surveyor goes beyond his/her expertise, then you may have a claim for negligence against the surveyor.

We must be clear that we are not able to assist you if the service you received was simply poor; must have suffered a financial loss. For cases of poor service with no financial loss, you may be able to submit a formal complaint; please refer to our ‘Negligence or just a compliant’ page for further information.

 

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