As a result of the UK housing boom, more homeowners are considering suing the surveyors they used when purchasing their homes.
Professional negligence claims are on the rise due to faults being found in properties that were not identified during the survey but were later discovered after buyers had moved into their new homes.
The trend has largely been fuelled by an increase in activity within the UK property market, following the temporary stamp duty holiday issued by the Government last summer.
An increase in negligence claims against surveyors due to heightened market activity
Whenever there is heightened property market activity, there tends to be more enquiries from homeowners who are considering suing their surveyors and this housing boom caused by the pandemic – whether due to the stamp duty holiday or people reassessing their domestic set-up – is no different.
With a volatile market, many surveyors will see an increase in work. This – coupled with increased pressure caused by the pandemic, working remotely, and reduced teams due to the furlough scheme – means mistakes can be made and property faults overlooked, which, ultimately, results in a rise in people bringing professional negligence claims forward.
Surveyors are usually instructed by clients to carry out an inspection and survey of the property prior to purchase. Professional negligence claims can be pursued where the surveyor fails to observe and report on defects to the property.
Making a professional negligence claim against a surveyor
During surveys, the extent of a surveyor’s duty of care will depend on the type of inspection they have been asked to undertake. There are three main types:
- A mortgage valuation report, where the duty owed to the client will be extremely limited as it only covers a very basic level of inspection;
- A homebuyer report; and
- At the other end of the scale, a building survey, where the duty owed by a surveyor will be much greater given the need to go into far more detail about the condition of the property.
In order to prove that a surveyor has breached their duties, it is usual for a homeowner to obtain a report from another surveyor to comment on whether the work undertaken fell below the standard to be expected.
Where a surveyor is instructed to undertake, for example, a homebuyer report, and in undertaking that inspection fails to spot and/or report on any defects that were obvious, or should have been obvious, the surveyor will be negligent.
In these circumstances, the typical loss that a homeowner can recover is the overpayment they have made for the property. Put another way, this will be the difference between the purchase price and the actual value of the property.
Surveyors, like other professionals, must ensure they use reasonable care and skill when undertaking work for a client, whether instructed by businesses or individuals. Establishing whether or not there is a legitimate claim for professional negligence isn’t easy, therefore we’d strongly recommend approaching a legal professional for advice and support throughout the process.
How can Nelsons help?
Our expert team are experienced in every type of professional negligence claim. If you feel that you may have a claim for professional negligence against your surveyor then we can evaluate your case and assess your chances of success and the timescales and costs involved.