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Understanding Party Wall Procedures

Thursday, 2nd April 2020 | by: Justin Burns

I’ve written in depth about party wall procedures over recent months and will continue to do so but I thought it was time to provide an overview of the party wall process. In my experience, owners find it easier to understand why a particular part of the process happens if they can understand how it fits into the overall statutory framework.

The following is therefore a summary of procedures as set out in the Party Wall Act:

  1. Certain works, those that are likely to have an impact on adjoining properties, must be formally notified to the affected adjoining owners.
  2. Those adjoining owners, from the point at which they receive the notice(s), have 14 days In which to respond. The two possible responses are a ‘consent’ which allows the building owner to proceed with the works at the end of the notice period (or earlier by agreement) or a ‘dissent’ which triggers a dispute. The ‘dispute’ does not have to be defined as, if the adjoining owner fails to respond at all they will be deemed to have dissented at the end of the 14 days.
  3. Where a dispute arises, both owners must appoint a surveyor or concur in the appointment of an agreed surveyor. If the adjoining owner fails to appoint a surveyor for 10 days after being requested to do so the building owner may choose one for them (that cannot be the same surveyor that they are using).
  4. The surveyor(s) produce a document called a party wall award which resolves the dispute that was triggered when the notice was dissented to. The party wall award authorises the notified works to be undertaken but in a manner that reduces the risk of damage to the adjoining owner’s property as much as is reasonably possible and does not cause unnecessary inconvenience.
  5. The party wall award will typically include a schedule of condition covering the adjoining owner’s property. The recording of the schedule is not part of the procedure set out in the Act but it has practical benefits and gives the surveyors an opportunity to consider the works in context. The surveyors must also decide which owner pays their fees and, as a rule, that will be the owner benefitting from the works.
  6. Once the party wall award has been served, the surveyor(s) have discharged their duty although most awards will make provision for a further inspection of the adjoining owner’s property at the end of the works. This further inspection is not part of the official procedure but rather a tradition that has developed over time for practical purposes.
  7. Despite having discharged their duty, surveyors remain appointed indefinitely in case further disputes arise either during or following the works such as over the cause or cost of making good damage. Further disputes must be defined.

It should always be kept in mind that the surveyors are working within a statutory process and are bound by the wording of the Act. They may add to that process by agreement, such as including a schedule of condition, where it relates to the works and there are good practical reasons for doing so but they must be wary of straying beyond their remit.

As further posts are added to the blog I will add links above.

If you require assistance with a particle matter please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 8546 7211 or by email.