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What Is A Party Wall Dispute?

Dec 1, 2022

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Thank you for clicking on today’s Property Surveying blog post.  Today we are going to be looking at party wall surveying matters.

In this blog post we are going to be looking at party wall disputes through the eyes of a party wall surveyor

Here at Stokemont we are building surveyors by profession, however specialist in party wall surveying matters.

Our party wall surveyors not only deal with thousands of party wall disputes each and every year, they also have the pride of acting on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners alike, in assisting to resolve the party wall disputes that arise at their properties. 

Party Wall Dispute

A party wall dispute occurs when a building owner serves a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner. 

In order for the dispute to be activated, the adjoining owner will have to dissent to the Party Wall Notice that has been served upon them.

Once this dissent occurs, under Section 10 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 as follows:

Where a dispute arises or is deemed to have arisen between a building owner and an adjoining owner in respect of any matter connected with any work to which this Act relates either — (a) both parties shall concur in the appointment of one surveyor (in this section referred to as an “agreed surveyor”); or (b)e ach party shall appoint a surveyor and the two surveyors so appointed shall forthwith select a third surveyor (all of whom are in this section referred to as “the three surveyors”).

There will be a formal dispute, whereby the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 sets out that a party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors is appointed by the statute to resolve that dispute. 

Party Wall Surveyors

The party wall surveyor’s role as confirmed above is to resolve the dispute that has arisen. 

One of the most common misunderstandings raised by building owners and adjoining owners alike is that there isn’t actually a dispute as such.

This is something we recognise here at Stokemont, it is important to note that the word dispute is very much just the Party Wall etc. Act 1996’s way of setting out a path to resolution.

The resolution ultimately being the agreement of a Party Wall Award, commonly also referred to as a Party Wall Agreement.

Party Wall Award

A Party Wall Award is the legal document drafted, agreed and served by the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyors. 

While the vessel and Award itself is to resolve the statutory dispute that has arisen between building owner and adjoining owner upon receipt of the Party Wall Notice, in practice, the Party Wall Award will actually regularise the party wall surveying procedures, ultimately giving the building owner the legal right to progress their proposed construction works. 

Those construction works falling within the realm of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, and thereby setting out its validity.

A Party Wall Award can also deal with an outstanding matter or dispute that requires resolution by way of party wall surveyors. 

This could be as simple as additional work that the building owner intends to undertake, or alternatively might be some form of issue the adjoining owner has incurred, commonly such as damage. 

Party Wall Dispute Fees

While the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 does give the party wall surveyors the ability to attribute the respective fees and costs upon an owner, it also conventionally means that the building owner will need to cover the party wall surveyor’s fees and costs.

However, in a scenario whereby the dispute could have been avoided, it is likely that the adjoining owner could find themselves liable for fees and have to levy the cost of those.

Party Wall Surveyor Dispute

A party wall surveyor dispute will arise when there are two respective party wall surveyors.

The two respective party wall surveyors being the building owner’s party wall surveyor and the adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor. 

One of the first points of agreement that the two respective party wall surveyors will make is to select a third surveyor.

A third surveyor is in place and in situ to ensure that if there is any dispute that those two respective party wall surveyors have been unable to mediate, resolve or agree, the respective surveyors are then given the opportunity to refer the matter to the third surveyor. 

The third surveyor ultimately then having the all important final say in resolving the matter that has been referred to them.

Third Party Wall Surveyors

The third surveyor as set out above will resolve a dispute that is referred to them.

Commonly, this dispute comes by way of a party wall surveyor’s referral. 

However, it should be worth noting and pivotal to the party wall surveying procedures, that an owner also has the legal right to refer a matter to the third surveyor directly. 

The premise and logic behind this, is that if an owner is not happy with the party wall surveyor, or party wall surveyor’s position, they do indeed have the right to go directly to the third surveyor for resolution.

Third Party Wall Surveyor Fees

Once the third surveyor has formally stepped in to resolve the matter, they are naturally going to have professional fees and costs that they incur by way of desktop time, site inspection or communication and discussion.

The third surveyor will therefore not only resolve the dispute at hand, they will also determine who is responsible to levy their reasonable fees.

This can be wholly levied against one of the respective owners, the building owner or the adjoining owner.

Or, alternatively, depending upon the outcome of the third surveyor’s resolution, it could be split or apportioned between the two respective owners.

Party wall surveying matters are often a hot topic of dispute and confusion. 

If you would like to discuss party wall surveying with our team of experienced and qualified party wall surveyors here at Stokemont, please give us a call today and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you. You can also pop us an email, including any photographs, documents or background you would like us to review.  We will be happy to review those and provide some initial no strings free party wall surveying advice.

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