How to achieve Legal/regulatory compliance competency

All development must comply with applicable legislation and regulation – so how can building surveying APC candidates demonstrate that they have attained the related competency?


  • Jen Lemen FRICS

11 June 2024

The Royal Courts of Justice

As part of their APC, all building surveying candidates must prove that they have fulfilled the requirements of the competency Legal/regulatory compliance.

The RICS pathway guide for building surveying states that this competency 'covers all aspects of day-to-day functions associated with property management. It includes issues relating to works, health and safety, landlord and tenant relationships, and service charges. In general, any matter associated with the smooth running of a property.'

To summarise, at each level the competency requires as follows.

  • At level 1, you should demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of legal and regulatory compliance.
  • At level 2, you should provide evidence of applying your knowledge of legal and regulatory compliance to instructions or projects.
  • At level 3, you should in turn provide evidence of giving reasoned advice to or representing clients in relation to legal and regulatory compliance requirements.

The above levels should be applied to areas in your scope of practice.

The potential breadth of compliance issues that surveyors may encounter is very wide, so knowing when to act or advise and when instead to seek further advice or refer a client to another professional is essential in acting diligently.

Level 1 needs understanding of law and regulation

There are nevertheless key areas of knowledge that all building surveyors should be aware of at level 1. These are:

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Application and advice demonstrate levels 2 and 3

At level 2, you may want to include some of the following typical examples in your case study or summary of experience, as evidence of using your knowledge:

  • dealing with planning applications and other consents, including understanding relevant policy or restrictions
  • handling building control applications, and applying the Building Regulations
  • dealing with licences to alter and other types of consent pursuant to a commercial lease
  • inspecting and preparing reports for various instructions, including schedules of condition, dilapidations, party wall matters, rights to light and building reinstatement cost assessments
  • dealing with health and safety obligations during construction works, including the design phase
  • reporting on lease obligations.

Meanwhile, typical examples at level 3 could include advice you have given on the following:

  • obligations at lease expiry, including settling dilapidations claims
  • case law for a variety of instructions
  • reporting on a variety of legal or regulatory compliance matters such as access, asbestos, energy, site rules, planning and environment; you may need in these cases to seek input from other professionals where the work exceeds your scope of competence
  • statutory obligations
  • the application and interpretation of lease terms
  • listed building and conservation area consents
  • Building Regulations compliance, and advising on the best course of action with respect to approved documents or British or European standard methodologies. 

Use assessment to show what you know

You should be familiar with the building surveyor's role and responsibilities relating to legal and regulatory compliance for a variety of projects. Your summary of experience will need to convey this, with two to three practical examples at both levels 2 and 3. These need to be written in the past tense and the first person.

Elements of this competency can also be included in your case study, and you can cover any relevant knowledge you have acquired in your CPD record as well.

You will then need to be ready to address questions on your examples and knowledge in your final assessment interview. Actual questions for final assessment will be based on your experience, which will start at level 3 and focus specifically on the examples that you have put forward.

Always answer the assessors' questions based on your own practical experience, ensuring that you explain the advice you gave at level 3 or the actions you took at level 2.

The 60-minute interview will in fact go very quickly, so your answers should be concise and considered. Avoid the temptation to tell the panel everything you know about a specific example or the competency as a whole.

A sample level 3 answer is given below, which you can apply to your specific examples; the bullet points cover a wide range of advisory issues you could consider.

Remember that you will need to ensure that your answer reflects your own experience and the reasoned advice you have given. Think logically about the action you took, and the justification for your advice.

Q: Explain the reasoned advice you gave in the example you provided for X Street.

A: I advised the client of the following:

  • the requirement for a refurbishment and demolition survey to locate and identify any asbestos-containing materials, given the nature of the proposed works
  • the information required to submit a valid planning application, given that planning permission was required
  • there were no party wall matters to deal with
  • that they had to apply to the local authority for a licence for temporary erection of scaffolding.

As Building Regulations approval was also required, I provided the local authority's registered building inspector (RBI) with construction details, the thermal properties of various building components and surface fire class ratings.

The RBI raised an issue with the amount of glass proposed in the first-floor design, so I liaised with a standard assessment procedure assessor to calculate the weighted U-value.

Due to the U-values achieved on the ground floor, the proposal complied with the relevant Building Regulations, and I advised my client of this.

'You should be familiar with the building surveyor's role and responsibilities relating to legal and regulatory compliance for a variety of projects'


Jen Lemen FRICS is a co-founder and partner at Property Elite. She would like to thank Paragon Holdings project manager Babatunji Adegoke MRICS for his help with the article
Contact Jen: Email

Related competencies include: Design and specification, Fire safety, Legal/regulatory compliance

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