Today we are going to be taking a look at party wall procedures and in particular what needs to be done once a party wall notice has been served.
Receiving a notice that your neighbour intends to complete works involving the party wall can be a very challenging experience.
Not only is this kind of letter often intimidating, but it also brings up a whole slew of legal concerns, which is why knowing how to respond to a party wall notice is important.
There are two main things to consider in the situation, and that is consent and dissent.
Obviously, you will want to respond to your neighbour without burning the relationship the two of you have, which is why it is important to know how to do so.
The procedures laid down by the Party Wall Act 1996 often have a very strict set of procedures with how to respond.
Consenting to the Notice
Naturally, the desired outcome for all parties is consent. This is the quickest and most effective way to make sure that the works are completed.
However, a lot of adjoining neighbours are reluctant to allow and agree to a party wall notice consent as there is often a risk to their property in terms of damage.
That’s why it’s important to know what your rights are, how you can respond, and what to think about.
Dissenting to the Notice
You probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that there are misconceptions regarding what each of the answers to a notice means.
It’s important to realise that the act is designed as an enabling piece of law. Basically, this means that if the building owner follow the act, then they have access to do things that wouldn’t normally be possible, and they are protected by the law.
The act does not allow you to prevent this from happening, but it does allow you to raise reasonable concerns and dispute any potential actions before they take place.
In order for the provisions of the act to apply, there has to be a dispute between the parties who are attempting to resolve permission for works to begin. However, the word dispute is not always accurate, in this case, it’s simply a disagreement between neighbours as to how the project will move forward.
For example, you might be more than happy to let the building work progress, but you might not like it if it’s being carried out in unsociable hours. When you dissent, and refuse to give consent for the project to go ahead, you trigger the dispute process and allow for a surveyor to make sure that a proper solution is worked out for the benefit of both parties.
Furthermore, the surveyor is going to be able to take a look at the plant works as part of the process, which means that they can identify situations where you might require extra protection, which can help to prevent disputes down the line.
As the adjoining owner, you can consent to the works that are being suggested. In this case, there is no dispute.
However, you can impose conditions on the consent. In most cases, consent is often tied to the building owner paying for all of the surveyor, or compensating any potential damages.
As a result of this, the building owner will usually compromise an offer to have a schedule of conditions drawn up. This is often a much cheaper way of doing things, and it provides the security that you need.
It’s important to remember that just because you consent to the work being done, that doesn’t mean you lose any of your rights under the act. This means if a dispute crops up later, you still have the right to appoint a surveyor for yourself.
Issuing the Notice
If you are a building owner who is thinking about submitting a notice to a neighbour, the first thing that we advise is to protect your relationship with them. Being honest about what you intend to do from the outset is the best way to accomplish this.
Speak to your neighbours in advance and give them as much warning as possible, often in a face-to-face chat. Just dropping a notice in the letterbox is often intimidating
You should also remember that just because you don’t get consent immediately, that doesn’t mean that your neighbour has developed a problem with you. This is actually the most common response to the notice.
If you would like to discuss your party wall surveying requirements with our team of surveyors, give us a call today, we will be more than happy to advise.