Lands Tribunal for Scotland

OPINION

Coupar v Dundee City Council

Summary

1. A dispute has arisen as to the amount of compensation due following the compulsory acquisition by Dundee City Council (the respondents) of an attic flat within a 3 storey and attic tenement building at 19 Lorimer Street, Dundee belonging to Mr A J Coupar (the applicant). At the valuation date, the flat was in a very poor condition having some years previously had many of its partitions, internal wall linings and most of its fittings removed prior to its intended refurbishment. At the hearing, there was no real dispute that the most appropriate method of valuation was a residual method, assessing (on a comparative basis) the worth of the flat after completion of the refurbishment works and deducting from this value the estimated costs of the works after allowance for a grant which would have been available through the Local Authority. Although several transactions were put forward by the parties as well as current asking prices of flats in the area, the sale price of a flat situated below the subjects appeared to represent the best comparison. That flat had been modernised in the 1980s. The main issues between the parties were the likely cost of the repair and upgrading works and the extent of the grant. Compensation required to be determined under the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1963 and in particular Section12 thereof. The valuation date was agreed as being 19 October 2005. The Tribunal have determined compensation in the sum of £30,000.

2. The applicant also claimed a sum of £500 for his agent’s costs in the negotiations on value before any referral to the tribunal. On a consideration of the situation regarding the agent, who was not professionally qualified, the Tribunal have awarded £150 under this head, making a total award of £30,150.

Procedure

3. A hearing took place on 27 September 2007 at which Mr Jim Murray, a solicitor from the respondent’s legal department acted for the respondents. The applicant represented himself although his agent (his estranged wife, who is not professionally qualified) was also present at the hearing. The applicant lodged a number of productions in addition to a precognition of his own evidence. The respondents also lodged productions, including a series of recent photographs of the interior and exterior of the subjects, in addition to a precognition of their expert witness.

4. As the applicant was representing himself we suggested it might be more appropriate in this case for the respondents to lead their evidence first. Both parties were in agreement. We accordingly heard evidence from Mr Colin Scott a Member of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and employed by the District Valuer’s office in Aberdeen on behalf of the respondents. He had had many years experience of the Dundee market and had been previously based in the District Valuer’s office in that city before it was transferred to Aberdeen. He had first inspected the subjects in October 2006 and returned in August 2007 and taken the photographs produced to us. The applicant gave evidence on his own behalf. He had not inspected the subjects at or since the valuation date.

5. In the course of considering our decision, we realised that there was a potential issue over a deduction made by Mr Scott in his residual valuation of the subjects. As the matter had not been raised at the hearing, we gave the respondents, and thereafter the applicant, opportunities to comment on the particular matter. The respondents produced a revised opinion from Mr Scott who, however, did not change his end valuation figure. The applicant, to whom the respondents’ response had been exhibited, produced a reply on which we comment at paragraph 36 below.

The Facts

6. We have made the following findings of fact based on the evidence heard by us. We decided against a site inspection in this case having regard to the period of time which has elapsed since the date of vesting. We were also satisfied that nothing would have been gained by an inspection (which would have been external only) of the comparatives put forward by the parties since both principally relied on the sale of the flat within the tenement at No.19 Lorimer Street and there was in any event no detailed analysis, for example in relation to comparative floor areas. Overall, the evidence was at a very general level.

7. The reference subjects comprise the entire attic floor of a 3 storey and attic tenement building located on the western side of Lorimer Street in, or close to, the Hilltown area of Dundee. The area is a mixed residential and commercial one containing houses of generally modest worth. At the valuation date the area was designated as a Housing Action Area. Such a designation influences the extent of grant assistance available through the local Authority.

8. The respondents promoted The Lorimer Street (No.2) Compulsory Purchase Order in 1999, (confirmed after a public local inquiry held in 2004) in respect of the attic flat as it was below the tolerable standard and had not been brought up to the specified standard required by The Hilltown (No.6) Housing Action Area for Demolition and Improvement Resolution 1981. The property was acquired under a General Vesting Declaration effective on 19 October 2005 which is the agreed date of valuation.

9. The tenement building in which the reference subjects are situated has stone walls and a slated roof. It had been in very poor order but was upgraded in the 1980s at which time the two flats on each of the first and second floors were converted into one flat per floor with two flats remaining on the ground floor. There were two flats in the attic floor but these were not improved at that time as the then proprietor did not take part in the scheme of renovation. The applicant is a qualified electrician with experience of contracting for building preservation work. He was employed by the building firm engaged to carry out the construction work when the major part of the building was upgraded. He subsequently purchased the attic floor flats in 1989/1990. Thereafter, he stripped out many of the internal partitions and the ceilings and all of the services with the intention of converting the two flats into one. The upgrading and improvement work was never proceeded with. Mains services are available within the tenement building but there were no services within the subjects at the date of valuation. Water penetration from the roof had occurred and there had been a minor outbreak of dry rot. There are two dormer windows to the front and two to the rear. These were and are currently in a poor state of repair. The internal condition of the reference subjects is very poor. There are signs of a lack of maintenance at the gutters and chimneyheads of the tenement building.

10. The reference subjects have the potential of being fitted out to provide accommodation of 4 apartments, kitchen and bathroom. The cost of these renovation works at the valuation date is reasonably estimated at around £30,000. Capital grants would have been available against the cost of the renovation works. These were limited to a maximum cost of £20,000 and the range of grant available was between 50% and 100%. The individual financial circumstance of the applicant bears on the amount of grant available. A higher level of grant is made to owner-occupiers than to property developers. Applicants for grants are required to obtain estimates as well as a building warrant for the scheme proposed. The Council monitors the quality of the work undertaken in any grant assisted scheme. A grant at a rate of 75% could reasonably have been expected at the valuation date. The maximum grant for the reference subjects would therefore have been £15,000.

11. Certain common repairs were required to the building at 19 Lorimer Street. These were put out to tender in October 2006 and the lowest tender was £17,398. At the valuation date these could have been expected to have cost about £16,570. The share applicable to the acquired property would have been 25%, (£4,142 at the valuation date) with a similar amount applicable to each of the upper floor flats in the building.

12. The reference subjects were subsequently offered for sale by the respondents and five offers were received at a closing date of 27th July 2007. The highest offer was £25,000. No information was provided as to the conditions of the offer. There has been no significant change in the condition of the subjects since the valuation date.

Comparisons

13. The applicant put forward three comparisons. They comprised the sale price, in July 2006, for the 2nd floor flat at 19 Lorimer Street and the asking price for two flats, one at 182 Strathmartine Road and one at 7 Balmore Street, both currently on the market and for which no sales had yet taken place. The applicant also made reference to published material regarding general price levels in Dundee and to reported market growth.

14. The second floor flat at 182 Strathmartine Road was on the market at an asking price of offers over £65,000 at the date of the hearing. It had accommodation of 4 rooms, kitchen and bathroom and was described as requiring total refurbishment. It was apparently habitable. By contrast the top flat at 7 Balmore Street had been modernised and had double glazed windows and central heating. It also had accommodation of 4 rooms, kitchen and bathroom, and was on the market at the date of the hearing at offers over £84,950.

15. Mr Scott for the respondents referred to three comparisons in addition to the 2nd floor flat at 19 Lorimer Street. The particulars of these are set out in the appendix attached to this note of decision. They include a 3rd floor flat at 12 Brown Constable Street, Dundee, sold in June 2005 for £30,000. It had accommodation of 3 rooms, kitchen and bathroom and was described as in need of refurbishment. A third floor flat at 5 Park Avenue, Dundee, was sold in February 2006 for £22,000. It had accommodation of 3 rooms, kitchen and toilet and was described as in need of upgrading. Each of these was apparently habitable, and in a tenemental area similar to Lorimer Street. Mr Scott used these comparisons as a rough guide to the value of similar property in need of refurbishment, but otherwise made little direct use of them, preferring to rely on the sale of the 2nd floor flat within the same building as a basis for residual valuation.

16. None of the comparisons were in a similar condition to the reference subjects. Mr Scott considered that the only appropriate method of valuation was a residual one, taking the subjects once upgraded as comparable with the 2nd Floor flat at 19 Lorimer Street. This was sold in July 2006 at a price of £48,000. It comprised 4 rooms, kitchen and bathroom and had been modernised during the 1980s. At the valuation date it was dated in appearance internally. The upgrading works to be assumed at the subjects would be of a higher standard.

Submissions

17. Mr Murray made a brief submission to us. Mr Scott was an acknowledged expert and had vast experience. There was no other evidence from any other expert to contradict his views. Nothing emerged from his cross examination. The issue was one of the cost of upgrading which Mr Scott was saying was £30,000. Mr Coupar’s figure was between £15,000 and £25,000 exclusive of VAT. Mr Coupar’s evidence could not be relied on. It was not simply a matter of confusion but evasion; the issue of his reluctance to provide his permanent address was an example. The Strathmartine Road comparison did not advance the position. We should prefer the evidence of Mr Scott. On the matter of expenses these should be left for determination after our decision. Mrs Coupar’s expenses could not be treated as those of a surveyor or lawyer. The only evidence of what was incurred is what was before us. A claim for £500 was excessive.

18. Mr Coupar addressed us at some length but much of his submission related to matters arising prior to any referral to us and also covered what he saw as inadequacies by the respondents in their treatment of him. He submitted that a grant of up to 100% could be paid although this would be means tested by the local authority. The asking price for Strathmartine Road was the only other relevant comparison in addition to the sale of the second floor flat at 19 Lorimer Street. Strathmartine Road was a very similar property, albeit slightly superior. It requires major works and should be taken into account. On the basis of the asking price of £65,000 and after making a reduction of 20% for the increase in values in Dundee between the valuation date and the present time, a value at the valuation date would be £52,000. The allowance for the costs of refurbishment after grant assistance should be £10,000, leaving a value of £42,000. If the movement in the value of property such as these subjects was reduced to 5% p.a. then the value of the Strathmartine property would rise to £58,000 at the valuation date.

19. Mr Murray made a brief response, pointing out that there was no bill of quantities available, that it had been the late 1990s since Mr Coupar had last been involved in projects such as this and that Mr Coupar had omitted VAT in his view of the costs of refurbishment.

Discussion

20. It was clear from the written material made available to us prior to the hearing and from the evidence that there has been a history in this case of distrust of the applicant on the part of the respondents along with accusations by the applicant of failures on the part of the respondents. The parties are evidently in dispute about a claim by the respondents to offset certain alleged debts due by the applicant, but no submissions were made to us on this and it has formed no part of the consideration we have given to the matter. We were also made aware that there had been discussion between the parties which had resulted in a compromise price being considered by both parties. Again this has played no part in our consideration although it may possibly be relevant in any matter of expenses if this arises after our award has been made.

21. There was no dispute between the parties on any legal issues in this case or on the part of the legal code applicable. The matter at hand is the determination of the compensation due in terms of the Land Compensation (Scotland) Act 1963 and in particular section 12. This section contains all of the rules under which compensation for compulsorily acquired property is to be assessed. Rule (2) is the relevant rule in this case and is as follows:-

The value of land shall, subject as hereinafter provided, be taken to be the amount which the land if sold in the open market by a willing seller might be expected to realise:

The remaining rules are not relevant to this particular case.

22. We find it necessary to comment adversely on the credibility and reliability of the applicant. For some time now the respondents have been endeavouring to establish the applicant’s current permanent place of residence. He has repeatedly refused to divulge it and before us he firstly advised that his address was care of his agent (his estranged wife). When he gave evidence the address he gave, under oath, was the same address as his agent’s (but without the “care of”). Further, he was less than full in certain of his answers, which bordered on being evasive. At the start of his evidence in chief he quite clearly stated that during the 80s and the 90s as well as a short period in the 70s he was involved in the grant assisted modernisation of property “at every level”, albeit mainly for other developers. He stated that he owned a building company for 20 years and had been involved in “200/300” grant assisted works in Dundee. However, in cross-examination he appeared to maintain that he was until recently still actively involved in refurbishment works. On further questioning from the Tribunal he eventually conceded that he had not done any grant assisted work since the 90s. He also stated that he had carried out work at St. Andrew’s University, giving the impression that it was as a contractor. It later transpired that his involvement was simply working on site as an electrician. In these circumstances, we did not find the applicant’s evidence on a central issue about the likely cost of upgrading work to the subjects to be reliable. Further, although he maintained only faintly his original valuation of £35,000 based, he said, on a study of 20 to 30 properties and on his understanding of increases in value since the valuation date, we comment firstly that he is not a valuer, secondly that his evidence was to a large extent vague and unspecific and thirdly, that our above reservations about his credibility in any event make us reluctant to accept his evidence. To the extent that that valuation was relied on, we reject it.

23. Mr Scott gave evidence as an expert. We found his approach to be an honest one and his evidence was straightforward. If he did not know the answer to a question he said so. If his evidence and knowledge came from some other party he made that quite clear. While we might have preferred to have heard evidence directly, particularly on the upgrading costs, we felt no reason to doubt the genuineness of the statements he was making. Mr Scott is an experienced valuer with experience of valuations in the Dundee area. We preferred his evidence to that of the applicant, and we are prepared, generally, to rely on it, although there is one part of it, which we later discuss at paragraphs 30-34, and which we do not accept. We do accept his approach, which in any event was not seriously challenged by the applicant, of valuing these subjects on a residual basis, using comparison with the sale price of the second floor flat at the same address as the starting point, together with only the broadest comparison with some other sale prices. The residual valuation was relatively straightforward, involving deduction from the assumed upgraded value of the likely upgrading costs less the likely grant and also the one quarter share of the outstanding common repairs, to arrive at the value of the subjects. There was actually in the end little dispute about the amounts of these deductions.

24. We are satisfied that there is an insufficiency of directly comparable sales of other property in a similar condition to these subjects to enable us to proceed directly to a valuation. The only property put forward as a comparison which might be in a condition closest to the reference subjects is the flat at Strathmartine Road. While this is described as requiring complete refurbishment we are satisfied from the sales particulars that the internal partitions, the services and the bathroom and kitchen fitments, albeit dated, will be in place. That is not the case with the reference subjects which are quite clearly uninhabitable. We do not consider that the current asking price of this property has any significant bearing on the case. There is no transaction concluded, the price is simply an asking one. It is almost 2 years after the date of valuation in this case. Furthermore the property appears not to be in such a dilapidated state as the reference subjects and we have no knowledge of whether there are common repairs outstanding in respect of this building. There are just too many adjustments required, in respect of which we have no knowledge, to enable us to make any meaningful use of this evidence. The transaction within the same tenement appears to us to be a much more relevant and useful comparison. Any purchaser of the reference property would require to form a view of the costs involved in refurbishment and would also consider the issue of available grant assistance. The residual valuation basis precisely follows that approach and in these circumstances is the basis we also adopt.

25. The applicant argued that property in a shell condition was better placed for a scheme of refurbishment than one where downtakings were still required. The basis for this assertion, we assume, is that a cleared work space enables the renovation work to be carried out more easily and, presumably, more cheaply. On this valuation issue, there was nothing apart from the applicant’s evidence in support of the claimed position and we are not satisfied that there is anything in this assertion that we can rely on in relation to value. We accordingly reject it.

26. Subject to a matter which we consider below in relation to the outstanding common repairs, we are content to follow Mr Scott in taking the sale price of the 2nd floor flat as the starting figure in the residual valuation. We think that this was an entirely sensible and pragmatic approach on the evidence available in this case. We agree that the best comparison is the sale price of this flat, even if this occurred some 9 months after the date of vesting. Technically it could have been argued that this information would not have been available to any party making a valuation at the vesting date. Furthermore the market could have changed during that 9 month period. Mr Scott also recognised that the second floor flat, whose sale price was being relied on, had a larger floor space (because of the effects of the attic on the reference subjects), but having inspected the flat being used as a comparison had concluded that any refurbishment of the reference property would render it much more modern than the rather dated condition of the flat which was sold and that these matters cancelled each other out. We accept Mr Scott’s original opinion to that effect.

27. Mr Scott adopted a cost of refurbishment of £30,000. He is not a quantity surveyor and he did not have any direct evidence available. He had asked the respondent’s building department for an indicative cost and was given a figure of £40,000 to £45,000. He had subsequently had a meeting with the building department and as a result of these discussions a revised figure of £30,000 emerged and was adopted. No real explanation was given for such a significant change of view. We suspect that this particular market involving the purchase and subsequent renovation of relatively low value flats could well involve skilled tradesmen taking on the work themselves after purchase, where they would not charge out their time. As a result the conversion costs could be below the costs which a contractor would require to charge. An awareness of this may have played a part in the conclusion reached by Mr Scott. At all events, this was the figure contended for by the respondents. By contrast the applicant, in his precognition, stated a figure for renovation in the range of £15,000 and £25,000. At the hearing, he spoke to a figure of between £20,000 and £25,000. On questioning he accepted that his figures were without the addition of VAT. The addition of VAT at 17.5% to the top of his range of costs gives a figure of £29,375, very close to Mr Scott’s adopted figure of £30,000. Given that the applicant has not been involved in quoting for this type of work as part of a building company for several years and is likely to be out of date in his knowledge we see no reason to reduce Mr Scott’s refurbishment cost of £30,000.

28. We also accept Mr Scott’s assessment of the extent of grant assistance which would be available. There was no dispute that such a grant would have been available and that there would have been a cap on the amount eligible for grant at £20,000. Mr Scott adopted a figure of 75% as to the extent from a range of 50% to 100% but the applicant suggested that the range was 75% to 100%. The applicant did not actually say that a higher grant ratio than 75% would have been made, or offer any higher figure. In the absence of any support for any higher percentage, we find that a grant of £15,000 would have been available at the valuation date to meet part of the costs of refurbishment.

29. The final deduction in the residual valuation relates to the share of liability for outstanding common repairs. We accepted Mr Scott’s evidence as to the existence of this liability. The applicant gave some evidence which, if it was not simply a part of his more general complaints against the respondents, might be regarded as questioning the appropriate figure to be taken for this liability. He said that he had recently been told about, and to a very limited extent himself seen, some work going on at the subjects. He seemed to be suggesting that the figure of £17,398 taken by Mr Scott was in respect of a couple of days’ work. At best, he seemed to be confused by the fact that scaffolding had been erected at the building quite recently (the works carried out were not explained to us) and he assumed that this was in connection with the repairs to the tenement outstanding at the valuation date. We are satisfied that the applicant simply was not in the picture, and we accept Mr Scott’s evidence to the effect that these common repairs had been properly costed and indeed the subject of a tender exercise.

30. We further basically accept the appropriateness of deduction of the appropriate share of common repairs in the residual valuation. However, we encountered a problem with Mr Scott’s evidence in this connection and in the result do not accept his revised opinion in its entirety. When we came to consider our decision we realised that there was a difficulty about this deduction made by Mr Scott of the share of costs of the common repairs to the tenement. He had made an allowance of 25% for the share to be borne by the reference subjects which produced a figure of £4,142. However, the second floor flat which had been taken as comparable must have been in the same position in relation to common repairs. The valuation date is October 2005. The work was put out to tender in October 2006. The sale of the flat on the second floor of No.19 Lorimer Street occurred in July 2006. It was not clear to the tribunal if any adjustment had been made in the analysis of the second floor sale for these costs. On the face of it there was an apparent inconsistency of approach as the full deduction had been made in Mr Scott’s valuation of the reference subjects. As the point had not been raised at the hearing, we felt it necessary to give the parties the opportunity for comment on it.

31. In response, the respondents forwarded Mr Scott’s comments involving some revision of his opinion. He accepted that adjustment of the sale price of the second floor flat was required and proposed to deal with that by adding to that price (the starting value in the residual valuation) a share of the common repairs calculated to July 2006 (£4,298, i.e. slightly more than the calculation for the subjects at the earlier valuation date). That gave a value of £52,298. We can accept this way of producing a like for like comparison. An alternative would have been not to make this deduction in the residual valuation, to put the hypothetical purchaser of the subjects in the same position as the actual purchaser of the 2nd floor flat, but the result would have been the same.

32. Mr Scott then further revised his valuation in such a way as to arrive back at the same final value for the subjects, viz. £28,000. In his initial precognition and evidence at the hearing, he had taken the same starting value for the upgraded subjects as the sale price of the comparison subjects on the basis of balancing the later sale date against the superior quality of the assumed upgrading of the subjects. He took these two differences between the subjects and the comparison subjects as cancelling each other out. As he had put it in his precognition, “because the standard of upgrade of the subjects is likely to be superior to that of the second floor flat I consider that this will offset any reduction in value due to the smaller floor area and reversion back to the valuation date.” In his revised views, however, after increasing the sale price to reflect the common repairs liability, Mr Scott back-dated the new figure (£52,298) to the valuation date, producing a figure of £45,500 compared with the previous figure of £48,000. He then, however, restored the figure of £48,000 to take account of the superior upgrading. Effectively, therefore, he no longer considered that the two matters cancelled each other out and gave the upgrading less weight (£2,500) than the back-dating (£6,798). We do not consider that it was permissible for him to go back on his previous opinion in this way and we do not accept that recognising that there was a problem with the original valuation does not lead to any change in the end value. To be fair to Mr Scott, he did offer some justification for this revised approach, because he indicated that he would back-date on the basis of accepting an annual rate of increase of 20% to which the applicant had referred in his evidence. However, we are bound to say that having accepted Mr Scott as the valuation expert we think he should be taken as having given due consideration to the rate of increase when he offered his original opinion and we do not think it fair to allow him to revise it in this way. Mr Scott’s initial residual valuation was £28,000, i.e. £48,000 less the net repair costs (£30,000, plus share of common repairs, £4,142, rounded to £35,000, less grant, £15,000, i.e. £20,000). Adopting his way of dealing with the problem raised and increasing the upgraded value to £52,298, say £52,000, and then making the same deductions, would produce an end value of £32,000.

33. However, in the circumstances we do not think the matter should stop there. We note that Mr Scott looked at some other comparisons by way of general check and it seems to us on the basis of our experience in compensation cases that this is something which should always be considered in relation to this type of valuation. It is well recognised that it is appropriate when resort has to be had to the residual valuation method to keep sight of such market evidence, if any, as is available. Ex hypothesi this will, for whatever reason, not be market evidence which it has been possible to use on a directly comparative basis. On the basis of a value of £28,000, Mr Scott evidently did not see the need to go back to the other market evidence. In his revised valuation, he was still at the same figure. We have, however, found the correct figure on the residual valuation to be £32,000. In these particular circumstances, we consider it both appropriate and fair, in the interests of arriving at a just result, ourselves to take another look at the other market evidence as an end check on the reasonableness of the result.

34. Such a look leads us in this case to make a modest adjustment by reducing the value from £32,000 to £30,000. Apart from the 2nd Floor flat at 19 Lorimer Street, there is evidence of 4 market values, viz. Mr Scott’s other 3 comparisons and the best offer, earlier this year, for the subjects. One of Mr Scott’s other comparisons apparently related to an attic property in good order, ‘freshly decorated’. We do not find that of any assistance in relation to the value of the subjects in their condition at the valuation date. 12 Brown Constable Street, however, was a third floor flat, ‘in need of refurbishment’ but apparently habitable and with partial heating, but one room smaller, which sold in June 2005, 4 months prior to the valuation date, for £30,000. 5 Park Avenue, another third floor flat, ‘in need of upgrading’ but again apparently habitable, also one room smaller and in this case having only a toilet, sold in February 2006, 4 months after the valuation date, for £22,000. Finally, the best offer for the subjects themselves, earlier in 2007, well over a year after the valuation date in a period, indisputably, of substantial property price inflation, was £25,000. There are then the two current asking prices relied on by the applicant, one in relation to a property ‘in live-in condition’ and the other, 182 Strathmartine Road, which ‘requires to be totally refurbished’ but is again apparently habitable, advertised at offers over £65,000. Whatever may be said about Mr Scott’s valuation of £28,000, a look at this evidence, but more particularly the actual market evidence of two habitable flats in need of refurbishing or upgrading, and the subjects themselves, tells us that £32,000 is out of line. We do not think it appropriate to make anything other than a modest adjustment, and of course remember that Mr Scott did not feel the need to adjust his value of £28,000. There can be no precision in the matter, but in the circumstances we arrive at a modest adjustment to reduce the end value by £2,000. In our view, £30,000, the higher of the two sales around the valuation date of habitable flats, should provide a ceiling of value of the subjects.

35. It will be seen that we have included in the material on which we have relied in making this end adjustment the best offer for the subjects in 2007. The respondents had not in fact placed any reliance on this, and the evidence of this offer only emerged in cross-examination by the applicant, who evidently considered that the information would have some bearing. Further, we do not know the conditions, if any, attached to the offer. We treat this figure with great caution. It will also be noted that we made a finding that there had been no significant deterioration in its condition since the valuation date. We had the benefit of Mr Scott’s evidence of his initial inspection, albeit that this was around one year after the valuation date, and his visit in August 2007 to take photographs. Although there was one minor attack of dry rot, the building as a whole appears to be in reasonable condition and we see no reason to doubt Mr Scott’s uncontradicted evidence that there had been no significant deterioration either in the rot or in the general condition of the subjects. Despite the necessary caution, we find this offer price of £25,000 for the subjects, apparently in much the same state as at the valuation date, of some significance.

36. Finally, we should comment on the applicant’s response to Mr Scott’s revised opinion and valuation dealing with the point raised by the Tribunal in relation to consistent treatment of the common repairs liability. The applicant submitted a four page response which does not address either the point raised by the Tribunal or Mr Scott’s revised views. Instead, it is a detailed elaboration of his challenge to the respondents’ figure for the common repairs liability. It refers to information, which, so far as we can see, was not contained in any previous evidence or submission in this application. We should not entertain it at this stage, but would make this point that as there is now a consistent approach as between the 2nd floor flat and the subjects on the matter of common repairs, any alteration of the figure for common repairs (or even the complete removal of this item) would in practice make no difference to the residual valuation. Further, and without forming any view on the applicant’s further indication of his views on the matter of dry rot, we note that the effect of these views would in fact be to support our finding that there has been no significant change in the condition of the subjects since the valuation date. We did not find it necessary to delay matters by giving the respondents a further opportunity to respond.

Decision

37. We therefore determine the value of the acquired subjects at the valuation date of 19 October 2005 to be the sum of £30,000. This is arrived at as follows:-

Value on completion of refurbishment works   £52,000
Cost of upgrading works £30,000  
Add share of common repairs applicable to reference subjects
25% of £16,570 … £4,142
   
Total, say £35,000  
Less grant 75% of £20,000 £15,000 £20,000
Residual value   £32,000
End adjustment −£2,000   £30,000

We consider this value to equate as closely as it can on the limited evidence before us to the statutory basis as set out in Sec 12 (2) of the 1963 Act.

38. The applicant sought a payment of £500 in respect of the services rendered to him by his agent (his estranged wife) in the preparation of his claim. A dispossessed owner is entitled to a reasonable repayment of professional fees incurred in negotiating with the acquiring authority. The applicant accepted that his agent was not qualified as either a surveyor or lawyer. We require to differentiate between the costs of the preparation for and attendance at the hearing and the costs involved in the negotiations with the acquiring authority up to the point when reference to us was inevitable. The former will arise in the event of any application for expenses after the issuing of our determination on value. The latter costs are legitimately part of our present determination. Once again the absence of any definitive make up of the claimed figure or even any summary of the work undertaken makes our task difficult. We are unclear as to the extent of Mrs Coupar’s involvement in the negotiations, but she undoubtedly did engage in correspondence in an attempt to reach settlement. We can do nothing other than make a very broad judgement. In the circumstances we award a sum of £150. We do not consider that V.A.T. should be added.

39. We accordingly award compensation in the sum of £30,150, with interest on the £30,000 sum at the statutory rate from date of vesting, 19 October 2005, until payment. We would again make clear that this determination conforms to the requirements of the 1963 Act and does not deal with any of the other issues between the parties. Any motion by either party in relation to the expenses of this application will, in accordance with the Tribunal’s normal practice, be disposed of on the basis of written submissions.