The Buyers instructed the Surveyor to provide a report and signed and returned the Surveyor’s Terms and Conditions via email. The Buyers’ covering e-mail included a number of requests, one of which included accessing the loft to assess an existing planning application document attached to the Property which had been submitted before the owner had undertaken remodeling work. The Buyers wished to know whether the work detailed in the planning application could still be completed.
The Surveyor did not immediately respond to the email and subsequently provided the report back to the Buyers in accordance with the agreed terms and conditions. The Buyers were not happy with the report as it did not cover their specific request and complained to the Surveyor. The Surveyor’s response failed to identify and acknowledge the Buyers’ request and instead simply focussed on the limitations of their inspection as set out in the terms and conditions.
The Buyers’ escalated their complaint to TPO where they requested either the Property to be re-inspected in order to fulfill their request or receive a full refund of the £1,117.25 paid so another surveyor could be instructed.
When providing the terms and conditions to the Buyers by email the Surveyor included a letter inviting them to read the terms and conditions carefully to ensure they were familiar with the service that would be provided. The terms and conditions included a statement that said should any additional service beyond the scope be required there may be an additional charge. The T&Cs were accompanied by the Description of the RICS Building Survey Service, Standard Terms of Engagement, and the RICS Building Survey Practice Note which formed part of the contractual agreement between the parties.
The Surveyor was correct in that the service did not cover the request made by the Buyers. However, the Surveyor’s Terms, the Description of the RICS Building Survey Service, Standard Terms of Engagement and the RICS Building Survey Practice Note all highlighted the importance of pre-inspection communication between surveyors and their clients to ensure expectations were managed insofar as the extent and limitations of the inspection and the report.
There was no evidence that the Surveyor had engaged with the Buyers prior to the inspection to explain what they could and could not do, and to discuss the points the Buyers had raised. Had the Buyers known that the report would not cover their specific points they could have made other arrangements.
The Buyers complaint was supported to the extent that the Surveyor did not make reasonable endeavours to communicate with them prior to the inspection to discuss the queries raised and manage their expectations. In failing to do so, the Surveyor disadvantaged the Buyers who proceeded with the survey without the full knowledge of the extent to which the inspection and the report could answer their queries and concerns about the Property. Furthermore, the Surveyor then exacerbated the situation by failing to identify and acknowledge these communication shortcomings during the internal complaints investigation