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Who is Responsible for Party Wall Repairs?

Aug 4, 2022

Thank you for clicking on today’s Property Surveying blog post.  In our weekly blog posts, we aim to tackle and discuss some of the more complicated areas of the surveying profession and services that the Stokemont team deal with. 

Property surveying can often be a complicated maze to find your way through, no service more so than party wall surveying. 

Party wall surveying is inherently complicated as it merges and combines both practical knowledge of building and construction, with legal knowledge and interpretation of statute.

It is important to note that this blog post will look at this topic through the eyes of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 which is the governing statute dealing with party wall surveying matters in England and Wales.

Disrepair to a party wall is conventional and altogether common.  When there is some form of disrepair requiring remedial work and financial outlay, the first point of call is to establish what the cause of the defect or damage is.

If indeed the damage has resulted through natural deterioration of the party wall, party structure or party fence wall, then under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and in particular Section 2(2)(B) of the Act as follows:

to make good, repair, or demolish and rebuild, a party structure or party fence wall in a case where such work is necessary on account of defect or want of repair of the structure or wall;

The building owner and adjoining owner, for ease of understanding, the respective neighbours to whom share the party wall, structure or party fence wall, will have the legal and joint duty to make good at equal apportionment. 

The logic and reasoning behind this, is that when a wall that is in shared ownership falls into disrepair, with that disrepair being on account of natural wear and tear.  It would be unreasonable, for one of those respective owners to have to carry the burden and levy of the entirety of the cost to make good.

After all, the structure is indeed shared and therefore it is only natural that with such a shared structure, while the benefits are shared, so should be the cost to maintain.

This is obviously going to be hotly debated and disputed, especially if one of the neighbouring owners does not want to pay their fair share for making good.  Or, alternatively, they may perhaps dispute the overall cost of the making good, or the need to do it in the first place.  Another common dispute resulting from this section and procedure under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, is whereby one of the owners disputes the cause of the damage with the structure itself.

Here at Stokemont, we would advise that before discussions are had with party wall surveyors, that careful open discussions and communications are had between the respective owners. 

Ultimately, while we are always pleased to take on the work and assist clients, in this particular scenario, our particular take is that the funds that are paid to a party wall surveyor, could be far better spent on making good the defective wall itself.

This would not only ensure that each owner pays a lower share of the necessary making good and remedial works, they also save any potential split party wall surveyor professional fees.

Ultimately, if there is a dispute that the two respective owners, building owner and adjoining owner, have been unable to resolve.  It will indeed fall upon the duty and realm of a party wall surveyor to resolve as per 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) each 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”).

Here at Stokemont, we do unfortunately deal with this type of scenario relatively commonly, and for many adjoining owners whom have had discussion with the building owner will tell you, it can often be an incredible surprise to them to find out that they have got to remedy and make good the defective wall and need to dip into their pockets in order to cover the cost in that regard. 

If you would like to discuss party wall surveying procedures with our team of qualified and experienced party wall surveyors and RICS building surveyors, please feel free to give us a call today or pop us an email, we will be more than happy to assist and advise. 

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