Finding themselves faced with an unexpected and unwanted dilapidation claim is the last thing any business owner wants. However, it's a situation many leave themselves open to.

This is often because businesses need to act quickly when moving into new premises. It could be that they are growing and need to move rapidly into larger space to accommodate more staff. Perhaps they have found new premises that suit their needs perfectly - and want to take the property off the market before another tenant beats them to it.

This pressure to move quickly can lead to a schedule of condition for the property being completed inadequately - or perhaps not at all. It is in these cases that businesses owners can put themselves at risk.

What businesses need to know about a schedule of condition

A schedule of condition is an agreed record of the condition of a property at the beginning of any tenancy. It is a vital document, because it represents a baseline from which future deterioration of a property will be measured. Without having a schedule of condition agreed, it is very difficult for a business to contest dilapidation claims brought by a landlord. This is because they have no agreed record against which claims can be disputed. There is no way for a business owner to prove that property damage included in a claim was present at the start of the tenancy. For this reason, it is essential a schedule of condition is agreed before any contracts are signed.

For peace of mind, a business should ensure a comprehensive schedule of condition is carried out by a qualified building surveyor.

It pays to be prepared

Recent innovations in the way a schedule of condition is compiled allow for comprehensive records to be taken very quickly. Smart 360-degree technology now means that a reliable record of the whole premises can be created in a matter of hours.

By producing imagery without any gaps, this technology ensures no areas of the property are missed. Small corners of damp, which could later evolve into more serious and noticeable areas of concern, can be identified at an early stage. Further to this, items in the photo record can be tagged by a qualified building surveyor to accurately record their condition. This high level of detail gives businesses the comprehensive information needed to dispute any contentious dilapidation claims they may face.

A further option for businesses looking for greater certainty about the cost of future claims is to prepare a dilapidation pre-assessment. Produced well in advance of a tenancy ending, these assessments can help business owners identify and budget for required repairs. This removes the threat of unexpectedly costly claims arising at the end of a tenancy. It also provides businesses with the option of addressing repair work earlier, so they can benefit from the work for the duration of their tenancy.

For a number of reasons, paying attention to the condition of their premises is crucial for a business. Agreeing a schedule of condition is a key component of this - and one that can help avoid significant issues arising later in the tenancy. Reducing risk here can give business owners peace of mind, allowing them to concentrate on the areas of their business they are passionate about.

 David Barker