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Defects and improvement works: A guide for landlords

By: Kelly Bellerson

Whether you are buying, selling, or leasing, it is important for landlords to be aware of any defects the property may have or incur.

Understanding the types of works needed to improve the property’s durability and condition can prove cost effective in the future.

What landlords need to know

Landlords looking to sell or lease their property may struggle to find buyers/tenants if the building is in poor condition.

From April 1st, commercial properties will need to have an EPC E rating or above to meet the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards.

Landlords will otherwise be prohibited from renewing a lease/selling a commercial property if it does not meet the new MEES requirements.

Prospective tenants can challenge the cost of renting/buying if there are any defects which have not been addressed.

A Chartered Building Surveyor can assess a building’s energy efficiency and identify hidden issues, advising on the best improvement works needed to upgrade your property and increase its value.


Water damage can cause significant problems to your building. When the leak comes from the roof, this can threaten the structural integrity of the property.

Damaged wall frames, ceiling joists, and broken rafters are just some of the visible problems your building could be subject to, in addition to hidden health concerns and fire hazards.

Where a roof leak has been left for some time, this can lead to the deterioration of materials – including saturated insulation within the property – inducing higher energy costs.

In extreme cases, a leaking roof has the potential to collapse where its support frames have weakened or rotted away.


A leaking roof is not the only cause of damp. From hairline cracking to larger crevices, water can penetrate a property and be the catalyst for expensive repair works.

One cause of damp can be traced back to blocked drains. Where water cannot pass through, it begins to pool. The weight of the blockage then begins to erode the outer brickwork, creating an opening for water to trickle in.

Other origins of damp include lack of waterproofing, rising damp, and lack of ventilation.

Cold wet walls, discolouring, and musty smells are some of the tell-tale signs, and it’s important to take the necessary steps to prevent damp – as this can lead to significant respiratory problems.

Other common defects to look out for

Landlords and tenants will want to ensure the property they are taking on is structurally sound.

From leakage, damp, mould, and cracking – to issues with the foundation, electrical wiring, peeling paint, and timber decay – these are the types of issues to be aware of:

  • Mould: A by-product of damp and leakage, thriving from built up moisture due to lack of ventilation. Moisture can cause paint to peel off walls, bringing about damp and leaks.
  • Cracking: Identified within the building’s foundations, walls, and floors. Cracks indicate a problem with the building’s structural integrity.
  • Faulty electrical wiring: This can cause fires. If electrical wiring is present within the property’s roof/ceiling, a leakage can also be a fire hazard.
  • Timber decay: Fungal and wet rot are the leading causes of timber decay. Timber, often present in older structures, can break when weakened.

What landlords should do

Landlords should look to future proof their properties to prevent any defects arising. A Chartered Building Surveyor can assess your property for you and advise on any works needed going forward.

If however, defects are already present, a Chartered Building Surveyor can recommend the best solutions to improve the buildings value and quality of condition.


A building survey can be conducted to report any defects found at the property, meanwhile if a tenant is taking on a new lease, a schedule of condition limit the repair liability down the line.

Where tenants are responsible for any defects or neglection of the property, landlords can request a schedule of dilapidations which ensures the property is returned in a similar condition to when originally leased or a financial contribution is negotiated to cover repair and reinstatement of the property.

Energy efficiency upgrade work will be required where a commercial property’s rating falls below EPC E. A Chartered Building Surveyor can conduct an energy assessment of your property and recommend the necessary updates needed to meet the new MEES.

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