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Can My Neighbour Refuse Party Wall Agreement?

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26th Apr 2023 (Last updated on 14th Mar 2024) 5 minute read

During a Party Wall dispute, a surveyor will be required to draw up a Party Wall Agreement. This is designed to protect and appease all parties involved. Once an agreement is in place, a neighbour can only dispute it in county court.

Your neighbour can refuse your initial Party Wall Notice, submitted before an Agreement. But the Agreement itself is a legally binding document.

Below we look at when and why you need a Party Wall Agreement and what happens if your neighbour refuses it.

  1. When Would I Need a Party Wall Agreement?
  2. Do You Legally Have to Have a Party Wall Agreement?
  3. When to Hire a Party Wall Surveyor?
  4. Do I Need to Appoint a Surveyor for My Neighbour?
  5. Can My Neighbour Appeal the Party Wall Award?
  6. How to Avoid Disputes Over Party Walls
  7. Finding a Party Wall Surveyor

When Would I Need a Party Wall Agreement?

You will need a Party Wall Agreement to set out proposed works on a shared existing wall. These are usually found in terraced or semi-detached houses.

If an agreement cannot be made between neighbours, they are also used when a dispute arises. A Party Wall Agreement is an essential part of the Party Wall Process.

For example:

  • If your neighbour has rejected or disputed a Party Wall notice
  • If they have responded with a counter notice
  • If your neighbour hasn’t responded to the notice

Notifiable work under the Party Wall Act includes:

  • Building work on a shared wall with your neighbour
  • Various work carried out on a floor or ceiling shared by a neighbour (for example, in flats)
  • Basement and loft conversions
  • Extensions which impact the party wall
  • Removal or repair of chimney breasts or stacks if they are part of a Party Wall
  • Certain excavation work

Minor works on internal walls, such as putting up wall units or pictures, will not need an agreement or notice.

Be aware that the Party Wall Act does not apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland. Common Law applies here instead.

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Do You Legally Have to Have a Party Wall Agreement?

No, you are not legally required to have a Party Wall Agreement. You do, however, need your neighbour’s consent, in line with the Party Wall Act. If they ignore or dispute your initial notice, a surveyor will be required to create an agreement.

When to Hire a Party Wall Surveyor?

You can hire a surveyor to send the initial Party Wall Notice to adjoining neighbours. This starts the process and must be done before any work begins. The notice consists of written correspondence informing your neighbour of the planned works.

You can also provide the notice to a neighbour without a surveyor. However, if they dispute or ignore the notice, you will then likely need to hire a surveyor. They can help settle any dispute between neighbours, giving their expert opinion. Surveyors will take into account all parties when drawing up an agreement.

For more information see: Do I Need a Party Wall Surveyor?

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Do I Need to Appoint a Surveyor for My Neighbour?

During a Party Wall Matter, sometimes more than one surveyor is needed. One for each homeowner and in some cases, a third to reach an agreement between all parties.

You are unlikely to be required to appoint a surveyor for your neighbours. If they are happy with your chosen surveyor, you can continue with the agreement. If they want another opinion, they are likely to want to pick their own surveyor.

A neighbour may wish to have their own surveyor inspect the wall and proposed work plans, ensuring they are not inconvenienced or out of pocket.

Keep in mind that if you are the homeowner who wants the work to take place, you will likely be responsible for your neighbour’s surveying costs.

Can My Neighbour Appeal the Party Wall Award?

Yes, a neighbour can appeal the party wall award, but only in county court. This must be done within 14 days of the award being drawn up.

Their appeal won’t automatically stay the award. As a result, the building owner can continue with the work as laid out in the award. This can go forward until a decision on the award is made in court.

How to Avoid Disputes Over Party Walls

A dispute during a Party Wall matter can cause delays and extra expenses. This includes hiring additional surveyors or even seeking legal expertise. As a result, avoiding a dispute is in the best interest of everyone involved.

Below we look at a few ways you can avoid or diffuse a Party Wall dispute:

  • Keep things civil with neighbours: Not only for the duration of the Party Wall matter, but for the years you will spend living next to your neighbours. Try to keep matters as civil as possible. This can avoid unnecessary legal expenses, delays and frustration.
  • Hire a surveyor early on: Hiring a surveyor early on, especially if problems or a dispute arises, can avoid unnecessary issues further down the line.
  • Don’t begin work without the correct consent: You cannot begin work until a Party Wall Agreement is finalised. Doing so could result in prosecution. It will also likely cause tension with your neighbour.
  • Be open and honest about your plans: When sending formal written notice to your neighbours, be honest about your plans. Additionally, don’t deviate from them without notifying neighbouring owners
  • Be fair and courteous: Ask your contractors to adhere to acceptable working hours, only use reasonable access via neighbouring properties and not deviate from planned works.

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Finding a Party Wall Surveyor

For Party Wall Matters, you cannot act as your own surveyor. The surveyor who draws up the Party Wall Agreement must be independent. They are also usually agreed upon by both the homeowner and adjoining owners.

  • There are a few ways you can find the right local Party Wall expert for you:
  • Ask for recommendations from families, friends and colleagues
  • Look at companies on the RICS website
  • Check the RPSA website
  • Read reviews for local Party Wall surveyors and companies
  • Compare Party Wall Surveyors on a comparison site

At Compare My Move, we can match you with up to 6 local RICS or RPSA surveyors who can assist with your Party Wall matters.

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