Common property disputes include matrimonial valuations, boundary lines, Party Walls, and building repair and construction negligence grievances. Requesting advice from a Chartered Surveyor in the role of Expert Witness can help to solve property disputes via mediation and avoid the costs and complexities of court action. Here we look at some common property disputes, why they arise and how they can be resolved with the help of a Chartered Surveyor.
Valuation disputes are common, particularly matrimonial valuations during divorce proceedings. This is when two estranged spouses are trying to establish how much their property is worth, for the purpose of one party buying out the other’s share. So you can see why the purchasing party would want a lower valuation than the party selling their share.
Resolving valuation disputes
To reduce the likelihood of valuations being contested by either side, Chartered Surveyors are employed as a ‘Single Expert’ on a joint sole basis to provide an impartial valuation on behalf of both parties. This role provides a single valuation figure based on fact and careful analysis of the key points that will affect the value, such as:
- Planning restrictions
- Planning proposals in the vicinity
- Occupancy restrictions
- Public and private rights
- Neighbouring properties
- Any restrictive covenants or obligations
Legal documents for the property should show where the boundary line rests, but the boundary may have changed since the records were produced – either because an earlier owner agreed to the change or because of encroachment (occupation without permission).
Examples of when boundary disputes arise include when someone needs to access their neighbour’s land for repairs or erection of structures, or when there are differing opinions on who is responsible for maintaining shared amenities like pipes, drains or chimneys.
In most cases, the legal documents for a property will highlight where the responsibility lies. Unfortunately, there are instances where the legal documents are less than comprehensive and fail to provide clear evidence.
Resolving boundary disputes
If you are involved in a boundary dispute and your legal documents for the property do not clearly state your rights, you should consider hiring a Chartered Surveyor with specialist experience in boundary disputes. They will be able to examine the problem objectively and call on their experience to help you establish who owns what, where the boundary to your property is, and identify your rights concerning access.
Construction disputes typically arise around uncertainty, contractual problems and behaviour.
Uncertainty usually revolves around the effectiveness of planning; whether enough information has been collected and interpreted to correctly predict the scope and cost of a task. The higher the uncertainty, the more chance that there will be changes to a property’s initial blueprints and specifications.
Contractual problems can occur if the various parties involved in a construction project are not clear about the risks or their responsibilities. It is not uncommon to see bespoke contracts that shift the responsibility for risks and obligations to the party least capable of carrying that risk. Bespoke contracts can be ambiguous, leading to a difference in interpretation from one party to the next.
This is just one of the behavioural issues that can lead to construction disputes. Another example may be when one party has unrealistic expectations, or denies responsibility in an attempt to avoid their liability in the event of an accident or mistake.
Resolving construction disputes
Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to plan for every contingency at the start of a construction project; however seeking a Chartered Building Surveyor to work as the project manager can help to plan the project as well as possible, foresee common problems that may have been overlooked and they can also tender and instruct approved, tried and tested contractors. All of which will assist in minimising the chance of disputes arising.
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Are you currently dealing with a valuation, boundary or construction dispute? We have an experienced team of Expert Witnesses that can help. Use our contact form to get in touch.
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