In many cases, work completed on a property’s boundary wall can lead to a party wall dispute between neighbours, this needs to be resolved with the assistance of Chartered Surveyors.
Chris Eglin, partner in our building consultancy department, explains what a party wall is and what should be done in the case of a dispute.
A party wall is a structure which straddles the boundary between two properties. This can be either vertical, as in a typical semi-detached property or horizontal, as in the floor of a flat. It can also be a wall which stands solely on the land of one person but is used to separate the adjoining property.
Party Wall Act 1996
The Party Wall Act 1996 enables an individual who shares ownership of a wall to work on the full thickness of the wall without trespassing on the adjoining owner’s property. This can lead to what is known as a party wall dispute between both the Building Owner (the person undertaking the work) and the Adjoining Owner (the neighbour).
What is a party wall dispute?
A party wall dispute occurs when a Building Owner serves a notice that they intend to undertake building works under the Act, but the Adjoining Owner objects to the work or fails to respond to the notice.
In this situation, the neighbours may each appoint a surveyor or jointly appoint a single surveyor to act for both. The role of the appointed surveyor (s) is to act impartially in the implementation of the Party Wall Act and to draw up a document that settles the dispute between the two owners in much the same way as a judge would in court. This legally binding document is referred to as an Award.
The Award may relate to the works themselves, such as the extent of the works, restrictions on timing of the works, and any additional works that might be required. With cases that result in loss or damage suffered by the adjoining owner, the Award will also include the level of compensation payable.
If either Owner disagrees with the surveyor’s Award then they may appeal this to the county court. Owners have 14 days to do this and the Award will only be overturned if the court feels that the surveyors have not abided by the dispute resolution procedure, set out in the Act.
For more information, please click here to view our full list of party wall frequently asked questions.