Regulatory bodies failure costing home buyers thousands

There needs to be a significant shake up of the UK regulatory system relating to the accurate measurement of property with data showing average houses in London being wrongly measured by an average of 92 square feet.

Spec, the UK’s only fully certified, millimetre accurate property measurement systems is calling for change after its analysis found that buyers currently face a discrepancy in valuations estimated at £119 billion in London alone.

The figures published by Spec have been by the supported by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which recently published its own report on the importance of measurement.

Under the RICS code of measuring practice, which is considered the industry benchmark, an error of around 1% in measurements is typically allowed. However, RICS has found that the error rate can be as high as 60%, indicating that this standard is being breached regularly at an alarming level.

‘RICS has produced a property measurement standard to ensure that all residential properties are measured consistently, whether it is for sales or lettings purposes. However, this standard seems to be routinely ignored by both the industry and various regulatory bodies,’ said James Marshall, chief executive officer of Spec.

‘We need a standardised measurement system that takes the guesswork out of property surveying, an assurance that property surveyors are appropriately certified and that a clear process is enforced outlining rules that are set out to protect the interest of home buyers and tenants,’ he explained.

He pointed out that mismeasurement goes well beyond just an incorrect representation of a property as it impacts how much people pay in council tax and stamp duty, insurance costs and it may have a significant impact on the resale value of a property.

Mismeasurement also means that EPC ratings are completely incorrect and an estimated 35,000 E-rated properties are being let illegally by landlords, as they are actually below the standard set by the government for the residential lettings market.

He also pointed out that consumers are supposed to be under the protection of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act (CPR), however they are routinely let down by a lack of policing.

‘While the RICS rollout of a Certified Property Measurer course is welcomed, more needs to be done to ensure the rules are enforced to give consumers the protection they expect. Agents falling foul of CPR legislation can face significant fines or up to two years in prison, but unless regulatory bodies act, this complete disregard for consumer rights will continue unabated,’ he added.