Before carrying out any work notifiable under The Party Wall Act, the building owner must obtain either:
a) The consent of the adjoining owners, or:
b) An award (agreement) that sets out the terms under which work can commence.
How To Get A Party Wall Agreement?
On receipt of notices, the adjoining owners have three responses available to them:
- Provide consent to the works (no further action necessary)
- Dissent to the works (a dispute arises and surveyors are appointed on both sides)
- Provide no response at all (in which case a deemed dissent arises, and a surveyor is appointed on behalf of the adjoining owner).
In option 1, if a written consent is received. Then this is considered an agreement and no further action is necessary.
In options 2 & 3, a dispute has arisen. Surveyors are appointed to resolve the dispute and serve an award. This award is often referred to as a party wall agreement as it sets the rights and responsibilities of both
The following article sets out how to get a party wall agreement.
If you are a building owner wishing to carry out work, you will need to:
- Serve a party wall notice on the adjoining owners affected by the works.
- If the adjoining owners consent, then there is no dispute and works can commence once the notice period has run (or sooner if the adjoining owners agree)
- If the adjoining owners dissent then there is a dispute which needs to be resolved by surveyors.
- Both sides should appoint a surveyor (you can concur on the appointment of a single surveyor if both sides agree).
- The two surveyors (or single agreed surveyor) will then consider the works and prepare an award. The award is the agreement that sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties. It also sets out the terms under which work can proceed.
- Once the award is in place then works can commence once the notice period has run.
The easiest, quickest and cheapest way to reach a party wall agreement is to receive the consent of the adjoining owners.
If a notice has been served, and the adjoining owners provide a written consent, then this is the end of the process.
We strongly recommend that building owners discuss their works with the adjoining owners, outlining the specific aspects that may affect them.
Adjoining owners are far more likely to consent if they understand the works and the reason for serving notice.
It is worth bearing in mind that the two parties (building owner and adjoining owner) are free to reach any agreement they want. It is perfectly valid for an adjoining owner to consent on the basis that the building owners provides something in return. This could be:
- A survey of the adjoining property
- A promise to repair the fence
- A bottle of wine
- A future consent to future work by the adjoining owner
- Anything that both parties decide
If the adjoining owners dissent to the notice then a “dispute” has arisen in the eyes of the Party Wall Act.
Both parties must appoint a surveyor. The surveyors will check the building plans and discuss any important points with you.
Under The Act, surveyors are required to be impartial, they are working in the best interests of the wall.
The adjoining owners property will be inspected by the surveyor(s) and its existing condition recorded. Should any damage occur during or after the work, the Schedule of Existing Condition is used to prove it is as a result of the works.
The surveyor(s) will then agree the terms under which work can begin. They will also set out any precautions that might need to be taken to protect the adjoining properties.
These terms form the Party Wall Award, a legally binding document which is signed the surveyor(s) and issued to the property owner and the adjoining owner.
The properties are then inspected on completion to check for any damage. If there is damage, then the surveyors will agree how it gets resolved.
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