When purchasing a property, it is common to instruct a surveyor to carry out a survey and / or valuation of the property. A valuation report is usually required before a mortgage company will confirm that it will lend money to you.
While most valuations are carried out very well, unfortunately there will be some instances when a surveyor might advise a client incorrectly. For example, they might value the property substantially higher (or indeed lower) than the property’s actual value; or they might miss a potential issue when inspecting the property.
Duty of care
Surveyors have a duty to take all reasonable skill and care when surveying or valuing a property. It should be noted that surveyors may not always be able to find all faults with a property if they are instructed to do a basic survey. If, however they are instructed to provide a full and detailed survey they may be required to carry out a more intrusive inspection of the property.
If you feel that your surveyor has not carried out the survey to your instructions or they have acted negligently you may be able to bring a claim against them.
It is not always immediately clear whether a surveyor has acted properly when carrying out a valuation. This is because variations are bound to happen between different professionals’ opinions on value.
When surveyors value a property, this will be based upon their professional opinion. Another surveyor may value the property on the same day, but come to a slightly different figure. For this reason, valuers work within a margin of error from around 5% to 20%. This margin of error (or ‘bracket’) will depend upon the type of property that is being valued. For example, a surveyor valuing a house in a densely populated area would be expected to work within a smaller margin of error to someone valuing an unusual commercial premises with few comparable buildings in the locality.
Determining whether a surveyor’s valuation falls outside of the relevant bracket can be difficult, and will usually require expert evidence from other surveyors.
If the surveyor’s valuation does fall outside of the bracket, this would be evidence of a breach of their duty. It would then be for the surveyor to prove that they did not act in a negligent manner.
In order to bring a claim against your surveyor you must have suffered a loss. This loss must also have been caused by the surveyor’s negligence. If you have not suffered a loss you will be unable to bring a claim.
For example: In 2015, your surveyor valued your property at £200,000 and you bought the property for this price.
In 2017, you look to sell your property, and the new surveyor values it at around £180,000. You investigate, and discover that your property was probably worth around only £170,000 in 2015.
If you could prove that you would not have bought that property for £200,000 if you had known all of the facts, you may have a claim against your surveyor.
There are strict time limitations which must be adhered to if you wish to bring a claim. These are:
- 6 years from the date of the negligent act or breach of contract
- 3 years from the date which you became aware of the negligent act or breach of contract. There is a long stop date of 15 years for bringing claims of this nature.
It can be difficult to establish whether a surveyor or valuer has acted negligently or has breached their duty of care to you. Our professional negligence team are experts in claims against valuers and surveyors. Call today on 0800 988 7756 for a FREE initial consultation.