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Managing agents insist on using their surveyor. Is that reasonable or conflict of interest?

(7 Posts)
aviator Tue 03-Feb-15 21:29:25

DSD has a flat she bought a few years ago. She did some alterations to the windows and doors, unfortunately she didn't realise she needed permission from the freeholder to do this. The management company (who we have since found out are a bit dodgy) have come at her saying she needs to use their surveyor (who we have checked has no known qualifications) to check that there is no structural damage that has been done. She will have to pay for the surveyor and a 'fee' to the freeholder (which I presume is for consent for the alterations).
Her solicitor has said that she thinks this is reasonable. I, however am seeing a conflict of interests. Surely if she is paying she has the right to use her own surveyor. And it all seems a bit dodgy - they are really insisting that she uses their surveyor. I can just imagine they will come up with all sorts of damage that they then want their dodgy builders to repair. Is this normal practise or am I being unreasonable?

tryinghardnottocry Tue 03-Feb-15 23:32:27

A surveyor is a general term and does not necessarily have to be a FRICS/MRICS, what qualifications does he hold? How much is his fees and that of the freeholder.

It is the landlords building and it is not unreasonable to expect him to use his own surveyor to see whether the works are OK. The fees can be challenged if unreasonable and if you feel that the opinion is wrong then get another opinion from a surveyor of your choice. The landlord cannot object to improvements within what is included in the lease. So a landlord can't object to a bathroom being changed or a kitchen, but can if you cut into the main fabric of the window, which is not normally part of the demised premises.

Good luck may be worth trying to buy the freehold if the freeholder is being picky

MrsBertMacklin Wed 04-Feb-15 00:01:43

Ex-managing agent here.

Standard practice for the freeholder's agent to engage the surveyor of their choice when a Licence to Alter is required, especially if the works have already been carried out with consent. They need to ensure that structural / fire protection elements of the building are intact and technically, your DSD is in breach of the lease: the agents will have a contractual obligation to remedy this on behalf of the freeholder.

It sounds like they're trying to do so amicably. They could have instructed solicitors and arranged for the survey via a letter before action if they wanted to be aggressive about it / rack up costs.

From their perspective, they will have the same wariness of bias from any surveyor your DSD engages (especially as she's completed the works without consent) as you do from theirs.

What were the alterations and how extensive were they? Is the building subject to any planning status, e.g. in an conservation area? Were the council's Building Control team asked if they needed to sign off any of the work? Were the window works carried out by a contractor and if so, did they issue a FENSA certificate?
Might be able to advise you on likely 'reasonable' costs and likely outcome if you want to post a bit more info.

aviator Wed 04-Feb-15 08:21:09

She replaced 2 windows (that were rotten anyway). Replaced the patio doors and shifted them a couple of inches to one side to make the original window slightly bigger to match the other one and put French Doors in where a window was. I would say it was a needed improvement and not just a 'change' if that bears any significance.
No, the councils building control team were not asked if they needed to sign off the work.
Work was done by a local builder, not a contractor. I will find out about the FENSA certificate (not sure what that is but I will ask her if she has one).
I think our concern lies behind the continual dodgy dealings of the management company (usual charging for work that doesn't appear to be done) and we are wary that their surveyor will purposefully say there are problems where there might be none. How much would a survey cost min-max? (London)

tryinghardnottocry Wed 04-Feb-15 08:57:00

The freeholder may want to make sure the appropriate lintel was put in on over the new window

The freeholder can charge a fee for giving retrospective consent and a fee of circa £500 would be reasonable and the surveyors fees if it's a one off visit say £400 plus Vat

I am a solicitor and have seen Suns as high as several thousands for consent and surveyors fees so brace yourself you may have to go to the LVT/FTT

OliviaBenson Wed 04-Feb-15 09:53:17

You might also need planning permission for the changes as flats only have limited permitted development rights.

I think you need to let the managing agent surveyors take a look really.

AnneElliott Wed 04-Feb-15 10:01:57

I am pretty sure you need building regs approval to change a window to patio doors, as the support for the window may not be sufficient to support the doors. However It is DH and not me that's the expertgrin

From what others have said, it seems as though you need to let them use their surveyor, but no reason why you can't also instruct your own as well ( esp as you think agents are dodgy).

In terms of charges, DH would charge about £150 I think to come out and take a look and then send you a brief report.

There's also nothing wrong with you asking their surveyor for his qualifications and professional memberships. Although I agree surveyor is a general term, I have never seen reputable people calling themselves that unless they have some formal qualifications.

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