Do You Need a Horticulture Specialist?

We speak to one of the most experienced chartered surveyors in the UK specialising in the horticultural industry, Simon Quinton Smith.

He speaks with Lawyer Monthly about the importance of hiring an expert with notable experience in the specified industry, in order to avoid unsatisfactory and erroneous results.

From your experience, when dealing with proceedings regarding rent reviews and lease renewals, what are the common issues which arise?

In my experience, I often deal with surveyors who do not have specialist knowledge which sometimes makes the job more difficult; it is easier once they realise the current situation, once I have shared the knowledge and experience.

What can those involved in the disputes do to avoid these issues in the first instance?

Those involved in disputes should always employ a specialist, someone who knows what they are doing and has access to detailed comparable evidence, rather than hiring chartered surveyors who say they know what they are doing, but do not actually undertake sales, lettings and acquisitions.

With your specialism in the horticulture sector, can you expand on how others who do not specialise in this area may not be in tune to solve the challenges presented in this area?

We regularly come up against our peers in the industry who either (a) say they cannot find any hard evidence because it is either off-market, or it has been done by one of the very few surveyors such as myself (and I do not share my evidence with anybody); or, (b) they try and use evidence either gleaned from the Internet (i.e. the Land Registry) and we identify that a lot of them are actually deals that I have previously transacted.  In some instances, people have used evidence of deals that were never completed, where we have had properties or businesses on the market, and they have not sold.

The problem they have is that they may know that a garden centre sold for £X, but they do not know how to devalue it between the land, infrastructure, buildings, trading potential, etc.

I find that when I come up against district valuers for negotiations for tax, compulsory purchase, etc., who may have been intransigent when dealing with surveyors with insufficient knowledge, and I provide them with my CV and list of notable achievements and hard comparable evidence of which I have personally transacted, they often capitulate and accept that the evidence which I have put forward is indeed correct.

It would appear that whether I am in Court or negotiating with parties who have no detailed knowledge of my specialisms that the information that I provide holds considerable weight.

It would appear that whether I am in Court or negotiating with parties who have no detailed knowledge of my specialisms that the information that I provide holds considerable weight.

From this, what unique aspects does the horticulture sector present in regards to valuations and rent reviews?

I do not think that horticulture presents any other unique aspects than other specialist areas.  I do not believe that the majority of Chartered Surveyors who undertake valuations within my specialist sector should be doing so.  They are not doing transactions, they don’t have the evidence and, accordingly, they do not really know what they are doing.  I personally would not undertake valuations outside my specialist sectors such as care homes and petrol stations.

Your valuations are based on comparable evidence which goes back many years: can you share how this helps during all-important court cases?

Having hard comparable evidence of deals that I personally have transacted makes all the difference in the Court believing my opinion over those of another surveyor who has not undertaken the transactions and thus cannot explain the market to the same degree I can.

There are instances where Expert Witnesses have to base advice on their experience rather than hard evidence and because I have only specialised in garden centres, horticulture and farm shops since 1986, rather than the majority of other surveyors who will have a much wider spread of work, my evidence usually holds more weight.

Simon Quinton Smith

Email:  simon@quintons.co.uk

Office: 01635 551441

Mobile:  07785 732460

My name is Simon Quinton Smith and I trade as Quinton Edwards, the trading name of Quintons (Commercial) Limited, specialising in providing property and business advice to the garden centre, horticulture and farm shop business throughout the United Kingdom and a little into Ireland and Europe.

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