Dealing With Disputes Under the Party Wall Etc Act 1996

Dealing With Disputes Under the Party Wall Etc Act 1996When you carry out work on structures shared with or close to a neighbour’s property, the proper course of action is to issue a notice under the Party Wall etc Act 1996. But what comes next? This article describes the process that follows the issuance of a notice, explaining how to deal with a dispute to your notice, and what to expect from a Party Wall Award.

What if a Dispute Arises?

Once you have issued a notice under the Party Walls etc Act, if agreement cannot be reached between neighbouring parties or the notice has expired, the matter is in dispute.

The process is as follows:

1. Surveyors are usually appointed by each of the Owners. Alternatively, the parties can appoint an ‘Agreed Surveyor’, who is acceptable to all parties.

2. The Agreed Surveyor, or the individual Surveyors jointly, will produce an Award which must be fair and impartial to all parties.

3. Where each of the Owners appoints a surveyor, they jointly select a Third Surveyor who in the event that the appointed surveyors cannot agree on any point will act as an ‘umpire’.

The Publication of an ‘Award’ or ‘Party Wall Award’

The Award usually includes the following elements;-

1. The scope of the works proposed by the Building Owner together with any ancillary temporary works and protection to prevent damage.

2. A Schedule of Condition, which is an agreed record between the surveyors of the adjoining properties condition that is likely to be affected by the proposed works.

This Schedule is re-checked upon completion of the works, and any damage noted.

3. A Method Statement and drawings (architectural/structural engineers) which indicate how the work is to be carried.

4. A list of hours and days of permitted noisy working with regard to the matters awarded – the Award does not control noise, pollution, hours nor days of working in the remainder of the site.

5. The right for either of the appointed surveyors to have access to inspect the works. This is for the surveyor to check that the works are being carried out as agreed, and allows the surveyor to inspect the neighbouring property for damage or a particular constructional detail.

6. A confirmation of who is responsible for the fees for drawing up the Award and for checking that the work has been carried out in accordance with the award. It is usual for the Building Owner to pay all costs associated with drawing up the Award if the works are solely for his benefit.

7. A confirmation of who is responsible for payment for the works. This is generally the Building Owner as they are for his benefit. However, there are cases where the Adjoining Owner may be responsible for paying for part of the cost, for example: where work to a party wall is needed because of defects for which the Adjoining Owner is responsible or where he requests work to be done for his benefit.

8. A requirement that prior to the works going ahead that unconditional planning permission (normally planning permission is granted with conditions and these should be extinguished) is in place as well as building regulation approval.

9. Provision for the surveyors to make further Awards, for example; where the scope of the works alters due to site conditions or upon the works being opened up.

After the Publication of the ‘Award’ or ‘Party Wall Award’

After 14 days have elapsed without an appeal being made to the County Court by either Owner on the grounds that the Award has been made improperly the Building Owner is at liberty to commence the works.

Upon completion of the works, the surveyors will check the Schedule of Condition and note if any damage has occurred. Any noted damage as a consequence of the works becomes the liability of the Building Owner to repair/renew/re-decorate OR in lieu agree a compensation amount to be paid to the Adjoining Owner

All work must comply with the Award. The Award should be retained and kept with the deeds for future reference as it will need to be produced with confirmation that there are no outstanding matters during the conveyance of either of the properties detailed in the Award.