Its a question we are asked all of the time – Can my neighbour refuse a Party Wall agreement?
In this blog Article we will answer this question and talk through the different stages of the process.
A party wall agreement is put in place to make sure that you and your neighbours can communicate properly on any given works relating to a wall which is shared by both of you.
The important thing to remember about a party wall agreement is that it is written consent from your neighbour that the work may continue. This can come at the end of a very long and drawn out process, but it is a necessary part of the process.
However, can a neighbour refuse the party wall agreement? Technically, yes they can, and it starts an entire process, so it’s important to understand how it all works.
Refusing the party wall agreement can come as soon as you file the notice that you intend to make the works that you want to complete for your property. Because you have to file the party wall notice two months before you begin work, or at the date specified within the notice, your neighbour has within 14 days to respond to the notice.
If they give their consent, you are free to begin the work when you want to. However, if they refuse to agree to provide you with that consent, then the dispute begins. it is not uncommon for neighbours to provide you with a counter notice, which involves them stipulating certain conditions for the alterations. If this happens, you will need to make sure that you have come to a compromise where you can, because this will ultimately lead to an agreement in certain conditions.
In the event that you cannot reach an agreement, a party wall surveyor will be needed to settle the dispute properly. They will create a party wall award, acting as a mediator between you and your neighbour to help reach a conclusion.
Now obviously, it is recommended that you and your neighbour attempt to appoint the same surveyor, because this will give you a chance to save a little money on the costs. However, your neighbour has the right to appoint a surveyor of their own choosing.
In the event that your neighbour chooses to hire their own surveyor, it is very likely that you will have to introduce a third surveyor into the equation to act as the impartial mediator between the two, as disputes overpay and details are quite common.
You cannot begin work until the party wall award has been awarded because your neighbour will then serve an injunction that will stop the work completely.
At the end of the day, if a party wall award is awarded, there is nothing that your neighbours can do to prevent you from beginning work. They have to provide a reasonable access to the property in order to undertake the works, but there are still a few things to think about.
You will want to make sure that you do not cause your neighbour any distress, and avoid damaging their property, as you will be required to fix and pay for the damages if you are found to be responsible for them. It’s important to try and keep your relationship with your neighbour positive during this period, as it would be a shame to ruin your good standing with them over this period of work.
Functionally, both of you have to comply with the Party Wall Act 1996. This was created to prevent any disputes from occurring between neighbouring building owners who share a party wall, and will lay down guidelines on what you need to do to look after your property. In the event that you comply completely with the act, there is very little that can be done legally to stop the project. However, it is important that you follow the rules, because otherwise you may lose your right to do anything.
At the end of the day, it is important to make sure that you are looking after the property of your neighbour whilst providing them with adequate time to contest the planned alterations. Your neighbour can refuse the agreement, but this does not stop you from conducting the work if you follow the regulations laid down by the Party Wall Act 1996.
It is important to stay professional during this period, and to make sure that you hire a competent surveyor who will give you the necessary tools that you need for success. By following the law, you will ultimately stand the best chance of being able to make your alterations with no challenge, but it is important that you do everything properly.
Your neighbour does have a right to contest the alterations, but this is not necessarily the end of your project if you follow the guidelines.
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