How a Red Book Valuation Can Reduce Your Inheritance Tax Liability

We all know that Inheritance Tax (IHT) can cost families a lot of money when a loved one dies. But did you know that there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of IHT payable? One way is to get an independent valuation of property assets (also sometimes known as a ‘probate valuation’).

What is IHT?

IHT is essentially the tax payable on assets left behind when a person dies. In the current tax year (2019/2020), anyone is allowed to leave an estate worth up to £475,000 – which includes the recently introduced £150,000 ‘main residence’ allowance – without being subject to IHT. Estates above this threshold are subject to a tax of 40%, on the amount above the threshold.

IHT applies to assets such as property, investments, vehicles and cash. In many cases, property makes up the largest part of a person’s estate – and, therefore, is the element most likely to push an estate over the IHT threshold.

Getting an independent probate valuation for IHT purposes

At Perry Hill, we work with families and representatives of the deceased to provide an independent value of property assets for probate. This valuation process applies whether the deceased had left a will or not. It’s absolutely vital this valuation is accurate because the market value of the property at the date of transfer (usually, the date of the deceased’s death) is used to calculate how much IHT is payable.

We also work with property owners to provide comprehensive assessments and valuations for the purposes of estate planning – thereby helping clients proactively reduce the tax burden for beneficiaries.

As with any valuation being used for tax purposes, probate valuations must be carried out by a professional member of RICS, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, according to RICS Red Book standards. That’s why the valuation is often referred to as a ‘Red Book valuation’.

Reducing your IHT liability

Whether you’re navigating the difficult probate process, or putting together your own estate plan, working with a professionally recognised valuer is the safest way to ensure you get a fair valuation and that you or your loved ones don’t pay any more tax than necessary.

Perry Hill’s independent, RICS-accredited chartered surveyors provide valuations across London and Surrey, helping to ensure our clients’ best interests are represented. Find out more about our Red Book valuation services.

Looking for new commercial premises? A chartered surveyor is worth their weight in gold

Whether you’re starting a new venture, expanding your operations, looking to downsize, or moving to a new location, finding the right commercial premises is critical. Having a good chartered surveyor on your side can save you time, money and hassle during this process – and throughout the lifecycle of your occupancy. Here’s how.

Finding and assessing properties

(commercial agency services)

Chartered surveyors are property experts. So it makes sense that they assist with property search and selection, helping businesses with both lettings and property sales. At Perry Hill, we’ve found this approach brings big benefits; for example, when it comes to negotiating rent or assessing the condition of a property, we have an in-depth idea of the market and building. This helps the client avoid paying too much (in terms of rent or sale price), and helps reduce the risk of acquiring a property with defects.

Mitigating risk

(dilapidations and repair)

You’d expect to have a building survey done before purchasing a home, but did you know chartered surveyors regularly carry out building surveys on commercial lettings, as well? Many commercial tenants opt to have a building survey completed before they take on a new lease because it can save a fortune in unexpected repairs. It also helps to reduce the risk of inheriting repair obligations from a previous tenant.

Another way to reduce risk in commercial lettings is to get a surveyor to draw up a Schedule of Condition at the start of the lease. This forensic report on the property’s condition – including detailed photographs – acts as a contractual agreement between the tenant and landlord, and clearly defines the condition of the property. This serves to limit the tenant’s obligations to repair or maintain the property, and protects both parties against future disputes.

Negotiating a fair rent

(market value)

Engaging Perry Hill as rent review surveyors is a great way to ensure you’re not paying over the odds for your commercial premises. During the rent review, a chartered surveyor will assess the rental value of the property, taking into account valuation standards and current market conditions, then provide a detailed report on its rental value – a vital tool for rent negotiations, be they at rent review or lease renewal.

If you’re looking for new commercial premises, Perry Hill Chartered Surveyors can support you with the search and selection, carry out building surveys and inspections, and provide trusted rent reviews. What’s more, our experienced surveyors are accredited by RICS, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, meaning you can count on getting accurate, fair advice every time. 

The Importance of a Break Notice in Commercial Leases

A break notice or break clause is an essential part of any commercial lease, since it allows either the landlord or tenant to terminate the lease early. So far so simple. But making sure the break notice is worth the paper it’s written on? That’s where many commercial leases go wrong.

Why do you need a break clause?

The break clause can be one of the most difficult elements to negotiate in a commercial lease. Yet, there are clear benefits to both tenants and landlords. For the tenant, a break clause gives a certain amount of flexibility to react to market conditions – for example, by downsizing (or perhaps moving to a bigger space) as the business demands. It’s a much-needed safety net for tenants, particularly in unpredictable times like these.

And what about landlords? Surely they want to hang onto tenants for the full term of the lease? For the most part, that’s true. However, sometimes a landlord may want to redevelop or sell the property before the end of the lease. The break clause gives them that opportunity.

The potential pitfalls of a break clause

The idea behind the break clause may be simple, but the reality is often more complex than people expect. The courts deal with a surprising number of disputes over commercial lease break clauses – specifically, exercising a break clause to end a lease early.

In many of these cases, the break clause has been drafted in such an ambiguous way, it makes it difficult to exercise the clause in practice. Or sometimes the procedure for exercising the break clause hasn’t been properly followed, or certain conditions haven’t been met. Whatever the underlying reason, these disputes can be extremely costly.

Therefore, when you’re negotiating a new commercial lease, it pays to give your break clause plenty of attention, and seek specialist advice on whether it really protects your interests. It could save you a great deal of money and legal wrangling further down the line.

At Perry Hill Chartered Surveyors, we work with both tenants and landlords across London and the South East to agree unambiguous break clauses in commercial leases. From leisure and retail premises, to offices, industrial warehouses and mixed-use schemes, our team will ensure your commercial lease works for you. Talk to us about your commercial lease needs.

Do I Need a Home Buyer Report or a Building Survey?

We’re often asked what exactly is the difference between a Home Buyer Report and a Building Survey. Our RICS-registered Chartered Surveyors provide both Home Buyer Reports and Building Surveys for commercial and residential properties.

In this article, we’ll explain the differences between a Home Buyer Report and a Building Survey so that you get the property inspection that you need as part of a house purchase, sale or lease.

What is a Home Buyer Report? 

A Home Buyer Report is a type of property survey recommended to the home buyer that provides a review of a property and lists details regarding its structure, condition and other factors that could affect the property.

Considering the costs involved with purchasing a property, it’s a good idea to consider having a property survey taken so you can get a clearer understanding of exactly what you are paying for.

What is a Building Survey? 

A Building Survey is another type of property inspection for both commercial and residential properties. A Building Survey goes into a lot more detail than a Home Buyer Report by providing much more detail in the written report.

Building Surveys carried out by Perry Hill Chartered Surveyors provide a 30-page report with around 200 photos, a list of external and internal actions and the likely cost to fix.

Building Surveys are particularly common for older properties and those with obvious structural concerns and for buyers wanting to know the potential cost of problems with the property they are buying.  Though the Home Buyer Report does not go into as much detail, it is still adequate inspection for many home buyers.

What is the difference between a Home Buyer Report and a Building Survey? 

One of the main differences between a Home Buyer Report and a Building Survey is the detail in which a Building Survey goes into. A full structural Building Survey gives a much more comprehensive review of the property and offers professional advice on the issues raised in the report.

A Home Buyer Report follows a standard format and clearly highlights any property defects.  Where Building Surveys can be tailored more to the property and concerns of the party wanting the building inspected, a Home Buyer Report is much more “out of the box”, for homes with a similar construction type, condition, and size.

The Home Buyer Report includes the following:

  • Traffic Light System of Defects – A traffic light coding system uses green, amber, and red to describe the urgency in which a problem needs to be addressed.
  • General property information describing the current condition of the property and highlighting any areas to be concerned about.
  • Reinstatement costs – A Home Buyer Report, if requested, can provide accurate valuation and rebuild costs to be provided to legal advisors and financial lenders.
  • General repairs advice highlighting the main defects that could affect the value of the property.

A Building Survey also includes the following:

  • Detailed research – Prior to the building inspection, detailed research will be carried out to find out more about the land, location, and property history.
  • Detailed advice – A Building Survey will highlight issues and concerns in the building, and also provide professional advice about the time and cost of repairing the urgent defects. In addition to this, a building survey will outline the cause of any issues so you can address these also.
  • Tailored reporting – The opportunity to discuss concerns regarding the building and tailor the inspection and report to these.

What are the Benefits of a Building Survey? 

A Building Survey provides a detailed report with expert opinions that can be used to guide your decision as to whether or not a property is considered a good or bad investment. A Building Survey is often considered an investment within the property industry and can help you avoid costly issues you may not have been able to foresee.

The Building Survey gives you a detailed evaluation of problems and is entirely in your best interests upon deciding to purchase a commercial or residential property. The benefits of a Building Survey include:

  • Actionable Insights – Building Surveys don’t just highlight problems, they provide solutions too. With professional opinions and advice, a building survey investigates each issue to find the cause of the problem and provide you with options for repairing and preventing it from happening again.
  • Budgeting – A Building Survey gives you the opportunity to budget towards the repair costs needed to fix and maintain the building.
  • Negotiation – With the results of a Building Survey you can negotiate the price with the seller to factor in the condition of the property and the repair costs you will need to consider.
  • Extremely detailed – A Building Survey looks at more than just obvious defects that can be seen on the surface. The Building Survey digs deeper and examines under flooring, between walls and on the roof. A building surveyor may also use various tools to help determine any issues that cannot be seen by the naked eye, whereas other surveys simply report on noticeable and obvious defects.

A Building Survey is also extremely valuable to sellers that need to know the steps they should take prior to selling a property. Those investing in a Building Survey report will receive factual information, advice, and priorities outlining which parts of the building need addressing, the potential costs, and time needed. This information allows the sellers to address these issues before putting the property on the market and will considerably increase the value of the property once resolved.

Building Surveys are particularly common for commercial premises such as industrial units, retail spaces, and office buildings.

Building Survey Process with Perry Hill Chartered Surveyors

When you contact one of our RICS Chartered Surveyors we will discuss with you any information you can provide to us about the property, and find out more about why you would like to obtain a Building Survey. This information will guide us through the process and allow us to provide closely tailored advice and recommendations throughout our inspection and within the detailed report that will be delivered to you within 10 working days of the property inspection.

On the inspection day, we will arrive at the property at an agreed time and will begin to inspect the property room to room. We will have with us the equipment needed to enter roof spaces and outbuilding, as well as camera equipment to take photos of the roof,  and will spend a few hours carrying out the Building Survey.

After this stage, we will compile our findings into an extensive document that comments and advises on the best way to approach any property defects found during the inspection, together with photographic evidence. We break down the key actions that need to be fixed both externally and internally, with a budget to fix the issues so that you can see how much the work is likely to cost.

Once you have received your property report, we will be happy to discuss the report in detail with you to ensure that you understand everything completely. If you have any questions at all or would like to seek further advice, we will be happy to help.

Contacting Perry Hill Chartered Surveyors

There are differences between Home Buyer Reports and Building Surveys, but it is important that you seek trustworthy guidance as to the survey your property would be better suited towards. Our helpful team of RICS surveyors will give you the advice you need about the different property surveys and help guide you in the right direction.

Perry Hill Chartered Surveyors provide property inspection services throughout London and the wider South-East region. Our clients range from both commercial and residential and recognise the quality and attention to detail covered in both our property survey reports and customer service.

Please find more information about Building Surveys at our dedicated Building Survey Reports page, or Contact Us to speak to a member of our team.

Why You Should Get a Pre-Building Schedule of Condition Report Before Commencing Building Work

When carrying out construction work on your property, there’s always a risk of damage to a neighbour’s property – especially in terraced and semi-detached properties. To help reduce liability and scope for neighbour disputes, it’s well worth investing in a pre-building Schedule of Condition report before work starts.

What is a Schedule of Condition?

The Schedule of Condition is essentially a building survey, but one designed to record the condition and defects of an adjoining property. It’s a forensically detailed report (including photographs) itemising the full condition of the neighbouring property pre-works.

Why document the condition of your neighbour’s property?

Because it reduces your risk in the long term. For example, if your neighbour files a claim for damages resulting from your building works, you’ll have a complete, independent record of their property’s condition before work started, and this will help to determine whether their claim has any grounds.

What sort of construction work are we talking about?

At Perry Hill, we recommend getting a Schedule of Condition report in advance of any building project that might impact neighbouring properties. This may include a rear extension, structural alterations, loft conversion or basement conversion. The report can be used for both residential and commercial properties.

Investing in peace of mind

Construction work can be stressful and disruptive. If there’s one thing you don’t need on top of that upheaval, it’s a dispute with the people next door. For you and your neighbour, the Schedule of Condition report provides important reassurance, because both parties know there’s a factual record of the adjoining property’s condition before work started.

Then, when the construction work is finished, a further inspection can be carried out, checking off against the Schedule of Condition report and confirming whether any damage or issues have arisen as a result of the works. It’s a sensible way to maintain good neighbour relations before, during and after a building project.

To find out how a pre-building Schedule of Condition can help ensure your construction work is a success, talk to Perry Hill. Our team of chartered surveyors can carry out all kinds of building inspections and reports, and provide trusted advice on the best way forward for your property.

Why use a building surveyor at the start and end of your commercial lease?

A building survey is not just for properties being sold. In fact, there are many reasons why you might appoint a surveyor to carry out a building survey or inspection on a rented commercial property.

Assessing the condition of the property

All commercial leases have clauses regarding the condition of the property, and how it should be maintained. This wording is designed to protect both landlords and tenants. But when it comes to enforcing these clauses, or ensuring a commercial property is being properly maintained, professional help is often needed.

This is where a trusted building surveyor is worth their weight in gold. They can carry out building surveys and other inspections, and provide detailed reports (including photos) on the condition of the property and any maintenance issues. With this in mind, having a building survey done at both the start and end of any lease is a good way to reduce risk and ensure peace of mind.

As well as a formal building survey, surveyors can also help with:

Schedule of Dilapidations – when a tenant has failed to properly maintain the property, this report outlines the items of disrepair and specifies the work needed to bring the property up to scratch.
Photographic Schedule of Condition – this document sets out the condition of the property in forensic detail, and covers the repair and maintenance obligations for the length of the lease, as agreed between the landlord and tenant.
Rent reviews – setting out the property’s current rental value, this report can be used to support lease negotiations and ensure the rent is set at the proper market rate.

Benefitting commercial landlords and tenants alike

Many commercial tenants choose to have a survey done before they take on a new lease because it can save them a lot of money in unexpected repairs. And for landlords, surveys and inspections are a vital way to protect their investment.

Ultimately, working with a professional surveyor means both sides can be sure the advice given is accurate and fair – which helps to promote positive communications and deepen trust between the landlord and tenant.

At Perry Hill Chartered Surveyors, we support both landlords and tenants with the full range of surveys, inspections and valuations. Discover how we can help you get the most out of your commercial lease agreement.

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