Properties  are designed to work and function in a particular way. If a property is not looked after, it can fall into disrepair and damage can be caused to it or the people using it. Therefore when the property is let, the landlord and tenant will want to make sure that someone is responsible for maintaining it.

In the case of the tenant s/he will want to ensure the property is fit for the purpose they want to use it for, whilst the landlord will want to ensure the physical integrity of the building is preserved so that it can be re-let at the end of the tenanncy.

In almost all written tenancies, there will be obligations concerning the condition of the property. These obligations seek to dictate the extent to which the property is kept in repair and the condition it should be at the end of the tenancy. Failure to comply with these obligations gives rise to a claim commonly known as "Dilapidations".

In the event of a dispute arising between landlord and tenant, a Chartered Surveyor will have to carry out a schedule of the condition of the property. When the onus of  responsibility  for repairing the property is established, the defects outlined in the schedule will have to be completed by the relevant party. 


How can you be sure that the home you are buying is free from major defect or that the price represents the open market value? The simple answer is that you can’t be sure so you need to be able to make a decision based on sound professional advice.

The RICS Homebuyer Report is designed to remove any doubts by providing a prompt service, a concise and easily understood report and accurate advice on the current open market value.

What is a Homebuyer Report?

A Homebuyer Report is a report on the state of repair and condition of the home you are intending to purchase and in more general terms in the case of flats/maisonettes of the building in which it is situated.  It is issued in a format approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

 The difference between this form of report and Building Survey is that the latter is based on a very thorough examination of the whole structure and is essentially a technical survey with a detailed report.  Although it may also provide advice on any repairs or modifications which may be required, it will not normally include a valuation (unless specifically requested).  A Building Survey can often be time-consuming to conduct and may involve the occupier in some inconvenience.

The Homebuyer Report however, is particularly attractive when time is short or economy is important.  It provides a more concise report concentrating on the major defects only, sufficient to enable the surveyor to give a general opinion on the quality and condition of the fabric.

The Report may not be suitable for all properties, particularly older or larger ones.  However, your surveyor will be able to advise you if your property falls into this category.

What it will cover?

The inspection itself will cover all those parts of the property which are readily visible or accessible, and that part of the roof space over a top floor flat if there is a readily accessible roof hatch.  It will not, however, include an inspection of the external faces of roofs or evaluations where there is no readily available direct access or visibility.  Surfaces of roofs will only be inspected if they can be readily seen from a 3 metre (10 ft) ladder.

An underfloor inspection is only made when and where loose floorboards or floortraps are readily accessible.  In many properties, a detailed surface inspection of the flooring may be precluded due to the presence of fitted carpets and furniture and, in some cases, of fitted hardboard over the floorboards.  If appropriate, however, recommendations will be made as to what further investigations are warranted.

Where possible, electrical and other services including drains (excluding flats and maisonettes) will be visually inspected, but a definitive report on the condition of services such as these cannot be provided without a test by a competent specialist contractor.  These tests can be arranged if required.

For the purposes of this report, the valuation is the surveyor’s opinion of the current open market value, based on the relevant facts known, on the condition of the property as described in the report and on the assumptions referred to in the Conditions of Engagement.  It will take into account the property’s repair and condition and market conditions generally and, unless otherwise instructed, will assume vacant possession.

What type of report will be given?

 Major defects noted at those parts of the building which have been examined and those parts in the case of a flat/maisonette which have been inspected will be listed in general terms, together with recommendations on any further investigations which may be appropriate, or other courses of action which may be required.  The report will not list minor defects.

What about flats/maisonettes?

As a flat is only part of the building and could well be related to several blocks of flats within one large development, the report is confined primarily to the flat to be purchased and is specifically linked to the building within which it is contained.  Other blocks are outside the scope of the report.

As most flats are held under long lease, outgoings relating to structural repairs and periodical maintenance, redecorations, lighting and furnishing of common parts, both internal and external, are usually dealt with on a proportionate basis.  The report will assume that the lease is drawn on these terms and that costs would be divided fairly and reasonably between all the flats in the development. 

If such terms do not apply, the surveyor should be consulted as it could materially affect his advice and valuation.

It is necessary to limit the inspection of the building to the section in which the flat is located and the common parts to the sole or nearest entrance lobby, hall and staircase, which forms the main approach to the flat.  In his summary the surveyor will, however, give his general impression of the way in which the whole block is maintained.

How can the report be used?

The report should only be used for the purposes for which it was prepared.  It is confidential to you and your professional advisers and will not be released to any other party.  It may be misleading if the report is relied upon by a person who knows neither the basis on which, nor the purpose for which it has been prepared.  Equally, someone who is not aware of the limitations of the inspection may incorrectly assume that a Building Survey has been undertaken.


What is a Building Survey Report?

A Building Survey Report is a highly detailed report and is essentially a technical survey based on a very thorough examination of the whole structure of the property, both internally and externally.  It provides advice on any repairs or modifications which may be required and details (in most circumstances) of ways in which these defects can be rectified.

Outlined in the various sections below are the essential details covered by a Building Survey Report.

Details of the inspection:

Roof: The inspection of the roof  coverings will be carried out with the aid of binoculars from ground level and with the use of a 3 metre ladder where applicable. Comments will be made regarding the condition of the tiles or slates in addition to the roof flashings. We will recommend any remedial repairs or maintenance issues necessary in order to maintain the satisfactory condition of the roof. We will also review the condition of any chimney stacks.

Walls: These will be inspected for defects to the structure as a result of settlement and/or subsidence. We will note if any damage has occurred to the damp proof course and whether there is a risk to the brickwork from trees located close to the property.

Rainwater Goods and Drainage: An assessment of the condition of gutters and downpipes will be made together with comments relating to the drainage installation. Wherever possible, drain covers will be lifted and inspected for damage or blockage.

External Joinery and Decorations: The condition of windows and outside doors has a impact on the security of the building. The inspection therefore will include the assessment of these elements in terms of their  suitability for providing an adequate deterrent againt against unlawful entry. We will also comment upon their general decorative condition and life expectancy.

Roof Space: An inspection will be made in order to satisfy our clients that the roof frame is free from any form of timber decay or damage and that it remains watertight and free from damp.

Ceilings, Floors and Internal Partitions: Wherever possible we will endevour to lift areas of carpets in order to inspect floor coverings for damage or decay. Comments will be made regarding the removal of load bearing walls or chimney breasts which may have weakened the internal structure.

Internal Joinery and Decorations: We will comment upon the condition of the kitchen units and doors together with any staircases. A brief description of the decorative condition of the property will also be made.

Dampness and Timber Defects: If a property displays either of these defects to any substantial degree, it will have a major negative effect on the soundness of the structure. It is essential therefore, that a detailed comment is made regarding these two potential problems together with advice as to how to eradicate  them if they have occurred. 

Service Installations: It is our practice to visually inspect the electrical and heating installation and then advise if any specialist tests would appear to be necessary. You will also be advised if special tests to the drains, gas or water installations will be required.

Insulation: Advice will be given regarding ways in which the thermal efficiency of the property can be improved in accordance with current regulations.

Garages and Outbuildings: Although it is our policy to concentrate on the main building, we will comment upon the condition of other structures located within the curtailage of the property such as garages and conservatories.

The Site: Observations will be made regarding the condition of boundary walls and fences and whether any trees represent a potential threat to the propoerty.


The 1996 Party Wall Act ensures that no landowner can carry out work to his/her property which might affect the neighbouring property without first complying with the provisions of the Act. The Act applies to works of all party structures including traditinal party walls, party fence walls (walls that separate land rather than buildings) and to any other structures that separate buidings or parts of buildings.

The Act was designed to ease the resolution of disputes between neighbours, and non-compliance with the Act can have serious consequences for the landowner carrying out the works as recent cases have shown.

The role of the Chartered Surveyor is to liase between the involved parties  in order to ensure the building work is carried out satisfactorily whilst ensuring the interests of both parties are served in a fair and proper manner.  Please insert your text here.