Party Wall Disputes - Party Wall Solicitors

Caragh Bailey
10/09/2021
19
5 min read
Party Wall Disputes - Party Wall Solicitors from Parachute Law Solicitors

What is a party wall dispute?

Party wall disputes happen when you share a partition wall with your neighbour and you disagree about works or changes to it. According to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, neighbours must notify adjoining owners of any proposed works protected by the act, at least two months before the planned start date, or at least one month before notifiable excavation works begin.

It is usually best to discuss any proposed changes with your neighbour informally, first. Knowing in advance if they are likely to dispute your plans can save you time and money.

If they disagree with the proposal, or do not respond within 14 days, then you have a party wall dispute.

Alternatively, a party wall dispute arises where one owner wants remedy for loss or damage that they have suffered as a result of the works undertaken by the adjoining owner, even where permission was granted.

For example, you agreed to works, but then part of the party wall collapsed unexpectedly, causing damage to your property and making it uninhabitable while repairs were made.

Notifiable work is building work which affects a shared wall or boundary line, or excavations within 3 – 6 metres of a neighbouring property (depending on the depth of the foundations you are making). For example, most extensions, chimney breast removals, basement conversions or loft conversions.

  • You'll need to serve notice on all freeholders and leaseholders of every neighbouring property affected by the works
  • You can serve notice before you receive planning permission
  • You can start work up to a year after you served notice

It's best to get a surveyor to write your Party Wall Notice. You can do it yourself, but you'll have to make sure that it is compliant with the Party Wall Act. Surveyors usually charge around £65 which may be worth paying if you are not well practised with legislation.

What happens if Neighbour refuses party wall?

    1
    Your neighbours have 14 days to respond to the notice. If they do not respond then it is classed as a party wall dispute by default.

    2
    Both parties must get a surveyor to agree the terms of a party wall award (or party wall agreement).

    3
    Send them a letter, telling them that they have 10 days to appoint a surveyor of their own or they will have to accept the one you appoint for them. If you can get your neighbours to agree on sharing a surveyor with you, this can save you both money, as opposed to paying separate surveyors to reach an agreement. You can ask your neighbours if they are content to do this but you must give them 10 days to consider and decide. If they do not respond in 10 days you must appoint them their own, separate, surveyor.

    4
    Your surveyor(s) will record the existing condition of the wall, so that they can measure any damage that could occur later on. They'll give you both a Party Wall Award which sets out some terms for your builder including when and how the work will be carried out, any additional work required to protect your neighbours property, and whether it is necessary that your builders are allowed to legally trespass in the adjoining property to complete the work.

Frequently Asked Questions
You can find the law relating to party walls in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. It is best that you familiarise yourself with the legislation at an early stage in the planning process. Below are a few main points to remember.

  • You must notify your adjoining neighbours of proposed works to partition walls (see notifiable work above)
  • Notice is at least 2 months for proposed works and at least 1 month for notifiable excavations
  • If you fail to serve notice in compliance with the act, you you can face an injunction awarded by a court at your expense to stop you from continuing any work
  • Failure to respond to notice of proposed works within 14 days is considered a refusal
  • If your works cause any damage, a judge can award your neighbour compensation for loss or damage resulting from works. You will have to pay this along with all of their costs.
  • If you have served the correct notice, surveyors have to settle any disputes over damages.
  • Surveyors can’t award costs for unquantifiable concepts such as stress and inconvenience so any costs awarded will be lower than those awarded by a court.

Writing your notice is usually around £65. Most surveyors charge £150~£200 per hour, and a full award costs in the range of £1000
If the wall is damaged by one owner, they are usually responsible for repairing any damage. Where the issue is due to aging or general wear and tear, in most cases, but not all, the boundary is determined to be in the middle of the wall, which would make you jointly liable for repairs. If ownership of a partition wall is indicated in the title deed then responsibility can be determined there.

Are you stuck in a party wall dispute?

The process for settling a property dispute can be long and stressful. If you want to settle negotiations, get in contact with us and see how our party wall solicitors can help.

We can assist with:
  • Pre-action negotiations
  • Application to court
  • Preliminary hearing
  • Mediation
  • Court appearance

We have on hand counsel to support your claim and offer guidance along the way.

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