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When a Building owner wishes to carry out certain types of building work covered by the Party Wall etc Act 1996 (the Act) has notified an adjoining Owner by serving formal notice under the Act of their intention to do so.
Once served with notice the Adjoining owners has 14 days to reply and select an option for below:
A ‘dispute’ arises when the response is anything other than an outright ‘consent’ to that written notification or indeed no reply is
received at all.
The use of the word ‘dispute’ can be difficult to understand in this context. Because its no unreasonable for an Adjoining Owner to request the appointment of an “Agreed” Surveyor in fact it is the most common option. All a consent does is give away the Adjoining owners legal rights under the Act and we would never recommend anyone consents to a Party Wall notice.
A ‘Dispute’ simply means that an Adjoining Owner is not happy about the proposed party wall works may not understand the scope of the intended works or simply requires more details in the form of representation.
The neighbour may decide to ‘dissent’ to the notice, to enable a Party Wall Surveyor to deal with the timing and manner of the proposed works.
The Party Wall Surveyor would not have jurisdiction over the works in their entirety, but only those aspects of the work that falls within the remit of the Act. To often inexperienced Party Wall Surveyors feel they are responsible for the entire project which is wholly wrong. Their responsibility is solely for notifiable works as defined by the Act.
It is also important to point out that a ‘dissent’ to a notice cannot, stop building works going ahead. No one can stop the works if planning has been granted.
The Act is designed to be an enabling Act, providing a resolution to issues between neighbouring parties therefore enabling works to proceed.
The Act also protects all owners’ interests, if resulting damage is caused by the Party Wall works to neighbouring properties, that damage
has to be made good and the responsibility of repairs is the Building Owners to resolve.
A dispute can also arise, if works covered by the Act commence without notices being served beforehand, or if due process is otherwise ignored. This is often out of ignorance of the Act rather than intent to commit an offence.
This gives rise to its own complications, and it is always best to seek and follow professional advice before finding yourself in that situation which could easily develop into an injunction situation the Building Owner cannot possibly achieve a favourable outcome. In this situation we advise to stop work immediately and appoint a professional Party wall Surveyor.
At Certified Building Surveyors we have a six strong team specialising in Party Wall matters in an independent and impartial manner.
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