1. Start investigating your options in the lease at least 12 months in advance of the lease-end date or as soon as you are served with a tenant's break notice. For example, you may want to utilise any 'repair notice' provision in the lease, which can only be done during the term.
2. Consider what your intentions are for the premises. If you have an incoming tenant, consider the works they are going to undertake to fit-it-out for their purposes, which may supersede or limit your entitlement to claim dilapidations from the former tenant. If you intend to demolish or redevelop the premises, you may have no claim for dilapidations at all.
3. Find out whether there is a 'schedule of condition' attached to the lease, which might influence the dilapidations claim.
4. Instruct a chartered building surveyor to produce a schedule of dilapidations. The building surveyor will undertake an inspection of the premises and produce a schedule detailing the works required to remedy the disrepair.
5. Consider whether to serve an interim schedule of dilapidations before lease-end, to set the tone for negotiations. But, be mindful that the tenant might undertake their own works, limiting your claim.
6. When dealing with dilapidations at the end of the lease, remember to serve the terminal schedule and quantified demand in accordance with the Dilapidations Protocol. Don't forget your quantified demand! Specialist legal advice should be sought.
7. If you're contemplating court proceedings, your claim might be captured by the statutory cap under section 18(1) Landlord and Tenant Act 1927. Specialist valuation advice should be sought.
8. Consider the "covenant strength" of the tenant. There is little point throwing good money after bad in pursuing an insolvent tenant.
9. Decide whether to make an offer of settlement. These can be shown to a court after the dispute has concluded when it is dealing with the issue of who pays what costs. Making an offer in settlement in compliance with Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules as early as possible, can be tactically astute. Specialist legal advice should be sought.
10. Seek early advice from professional advisors. Dilapidations claims can be difficult to navigate and potentially disruptive to the business interests of unwary landlords and tenants.