If you’re planning some work that will affect a party or shared wall on your property, it’s essential to be aware of any possible roadblocks which might affect the project.
You’ll need a Party Wall Agreement to be able to carry the work out legally, and you’re probably wondering whether your neighbour can refuse to a party wall agreement.
The simple answer is no, your neighbour cannot refuse a party wall agreement however they may refuse to acknowledge your party wall notice(s).
If they ignore your party wall notices there are provisions within the act to deal with this so that your neighbour cannot attemp to delay or even stop your proejct from starting at all.
Read on to learn what your rights are in this case.
If you find yourself in the position that your neighbour won’t give consent to your Party Wall Notice, or worse still, completely ignores it then there is a process you need to follow in order to reach an agreement of sorts.
First of all, you should be aware that your neighbour cannot simply refuse to consent on the basis that they just don’t want the work to go ahead. They need to have reasonable grounds for the refusal that point to specific concerns they have with the work.
The adjoining owner will dispute the work either outright, dissenting the notice, or simply not responding within the 14-day period. If they do not respond, they are considered to be in dispute. They may write back to you and issue a counter-notice, requesting alterations regarding the work itself, set conditions for the work or the hours of the day the work will be carried out. Contact the owner at this point to try and negotiate. If you can reach an agreement in writing, the work can go ahead.
A 10-day follow up letter is sent in the event that they do not respond within 14 days. If they still do not reply to this, you’ll be legally required to seek the Party Wall Award, which will have to be drawn up by a surveyor.
If you cannot reach an agreement within those 24 days total, a surveyor will need to be appointed to write up a Party Wall Agreement setting out the details of the work and try to settle the dispute. The likelihood is you will have already hired a surveyor to carry out work on the project, and ideally, your neighbour will agree to use the services of the same surveyor to resolve the dispute. They are, however, within their rights to appoint a second surveyor at your expense. The surveyor or surveyors will hopefully be able to come to an agreement on behalf of both parties.
If a second surveyor has been appointed and both parties still can’t reach an agreement, a third surveyor must be appointed to resolve the dispute and reach an agreement. This is the end of the line for the dispute and must be resolved here somehow. Once an agreement has been reached, your original surveyor can begin writing up the agreement to secure the award you need to carry out the work.
As you can see, the possibility of an escalating dispute can mean enormous extra costs added to the work. In the case that you are building something for your own benefit (as opposed, say, to repairing something which would benefit both parties), you are always responsible for 100% of the surveyor’s fees.
The process is not incredibly complex, but it can take some time and be very expensive. When you’re already occupied with trying to plan the actual work itself, the last thing you want is any delay or extra cost. Let’s look at how to give your project the best chance of getting off the ground.
If you’re struggling with the thought of getting a party wall agreement, why not contact us? Here you’ll be met with fully trained and RICS certified party wall surveyors that are eager to help you get your work proposed.
This potential level of conflict can be daunting, but there are several things you can do to give yourself the best chance of securing your neighbour’s consent as soon as possible. Disputes can prolong and delay projects by months, not to mention that they can be draining and distracting. The first thing to do is simply to be nice and to communicate with the affected parties.
The most important thing you can do is communicate clearly to your neighbour before issuing any notice or any formal paperwork. Go around to speak to them in person if possible. Explain what you’re planning to do, how long you think it will take, what hours it will be worked, the amount of noise the work will make—think about anything you would want to know before your neighbour started working on a party wall. This also allows them to ask any questions and, more simply, is just a polite way of approaching it. No one would like having notice sprung on them out of nowhere, and the work could in writing sound a lot more disruptive than it actually is.
Just like any profession, the party wall surveyor industry is not entirely free of rogue surveyors who don’t act in everyone’s best interests. They might be surveyors who look for projects with planning permission and convince adjoining owners to reject notices to collect their fee for resolving the dispute.
Due to this, you need to find high-quality and local surveyors. You can do this by contacting us and enquiring about our comprehensive party wall packages.
Make sure to include as much detail as possible on the work you’re actually proposing. This will come first when you discuss it with them in person, but discuss how much information will go on the notice with your surveyor. The notice should include a clear, detailed description of the planned work and, ideally, should be supported by architectural drawings.
As long as it is laid out plainly, you could never give too much detail in a party wall notice. The ideal situation is that this would clear up any lingering questions they might have and put them at the best chance of giving their consent. By having the best surveyors, you can guarantee the quality of the paperwork, which, again, will put your neighbour’s mind at rest.
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