Party Wall Disputes

28/09/2017
297
3 min read
Party wall disputes are defined under the Party Wall Act 1996 as either:

1 when an adjoining owner does not agree within 14 days to your proposed works involving a party wall; or

2 when that owner wants remedy for suffering loss or damage resulting from the works (even if they originally agreed to them.).

The Act dictates that such disputes are resolved by each side appointing a surveyor and these surveyors then agree the terms of a party wall award, which is known as a party wall agreement

The surveyors must act impartially.

To find out more about party walls in general, please read What is a Party Wall?

To find out more about party wall awards/party wall agreements, please read Party Wall Agreements

Need help with Party Wall Disputes? Call 0333 344 3234

If you’ve agreed surveyors, why is there still a dispute?

The adjoining owner may well have agreed to the choice of agreed surveyor – and this is inherently sensible for minor projects – but a dispute still has to be resolved, which is the reason why the surveyors agree a party wall award and serve it on the owners.

The dispute essentially represents the adjoining owner ensuring that their interests are looked after by someone who not only understands construction matters but also has expertise in the Party Wall Act.

Party Wall Dispute via 'Silence'(!)

The adjoining owner merely has to do nothing to register a dispute. If they do not respond to Party Structure Notices and Notices of Adjacent Excavation within 14 days, a dispute is automatically assumed in the eyes of the law.

Party-Wall-Award

Party Wall Dispute Timetable

The adjoining owner can instruct their own surveyor or consent to the appointment of an agreed surveyor within the fortnight period but they do not have to be hasty. Once this period has passed, they have to be sent a further letter asking them to instruct a party wall surveyor within 10 days or otherwise have one appointed on their behalf by the person planning the works.

NB If the person planning the works does gain this right to appoint their neighbour’s surveyor, they have to select a different one to the one they are using. Both owners have to consent to an agreed surveyor in writing.

'Clients' become 'Appointing Owners'

Once a dispute has arisen, the two parties involved, in legal terms, change from being clients (of surveyors) to ‘appointing owners’. The latter term is used to reinforce the idea that the surveyors must act impartially. However, prior to the dispute, a surveyor can serve a party wall notice on behalf of the person planning works because at that stage, it is unknown whether the adjoining owner will consent or not.

Consent, of course, negates the need either to have a party wall award or to appoint a party wall surveyor.

What is actually awarded in a Party Wall Award?

The surveyor/s can make a decision on any matter concerning the works which the neighbours cannot agree on. Where work is yet to be carried out, an award can rule on the extent and timing of the works and any additional works required.

In the case of loss or damage suffered by the adjoining owner, the surveyor/s can rule on the level of compensation that must be paid to them. The owner of the building carrying out the works generally has to pay for the costs of the surveyor/s making the award but this too is up to the surveyor/s.

What if you disagree with the Party Wall Award?

Because the award of the surveyor/s is final, you or your neighbour then have to appeal to the county court if you disagree with the terms and you have to do this within 14 days of the award being served.

Need a Party Wall Surveyor? Call 0333 344 3234



 
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