Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, property owners wishing to undertake building works that affect a shared wall, boundary or outbuilding must follow a set procedure to protect their interests, and those of the adjoining owners. A Party Wall Notice must be issued, and either a Party Wall Agreement or a Party Wall Award put in place before the works can proceed.
In an ideal world, the owner of the property undertaking the works will discuss the proposed plans with their neighbour in advance and there will be an amicable route to a Party Wall Agreement. However, it is not uncommon for adjoining owners to dispute proposed works, often because they are unaware of the project by the time they receive the Party Wall Notice, or because they don’t understand the process or their rights, and are worried about damage being caused to their properties.
In this post, we are looking at the subject of how to negotiate party wall agreements from the point of view of the building owner, with advice on how to achieve the most favourable outcome for everyone involved.
How to negotiate party wall agreements?
As a building owner carrying out works that fall under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, you must notify all adjoining owners in advance of the works commencing. Whilst adjoining owners have no legal powers to stop the work from going ahead, they are able to:
- Influence the times of the works being carried out, and how they are carried out
- Appoint a surveyor to resolve any disputes
- Ask for security to protect their property from any potential damage
- Receive compensation for any damage or loss relating to their property
It is these points that form the basis for negotiating party wall agreements.
When an adjoining owner receives a Party Wall Notice, they have the option to either agree to it (assent), or disagree to it (dissent). If they fail to respond to the notice after 14 days, this is considered dissent. In the event of dissent, both parties are deemed to be in dispute. And this is where it becomes important to be aware of how to negotiate party wall agreements for a mutually agreeable outcome.
The Party Wall Award
Where a Party Wall Notice is dissented, both parties will need to appoint a party wall surveyor to draw up a Party Wall Award. This is a document designed to protect the legal rights – and the properties – of both parties.
The Party Wall Award records the nature of the works, and how and when they should be carried out.
The Schedule of Condition
Also included is a Schedule of Condition which details the current condition of the affected parts of the adjoining property as they are before the works start.
A Schedule of Condition can also be offered to adjoining owners at the outset as a gesture of goodwill. Sometimes, neighbours may be reluctant to consent to a Party Wall Notice because they are worried about damage being caused to their properties and not having any evidence to prove how it happened. When considering how to negotiate party wall agreements, it is often an astute move to offer a Schedule of Condition to keep the negotiations amicable.
The Party Wall Surveyor
To negotiate party wall agreements that are in dispute, it is necessary to appoint a surveyor. Both parties can use the same surveyor, or each can appoint one independently. Either way, the costs will be down to the building owner.
If there are two separate surveyors involved, they will negotiate the terms of the Party Wall Award between them, and come to an agreement that is fair and reasonable for both parties. A single surveyor will still act impartially for each individual party and is obligated by law to do so. Again they will ensure the final agreement is fair and reasonable for everyone.
In terms of how to negotiate party wall agreements successfully, it is important to take on board the concerns of the adjoining owner. The party wall surveyor will be well versed in how to best address such concerns, which are most often based around fear of damage to their property, and noise and inconvenience during the works.
Party wall agreement negotiations will often include, therefore, stipulations as to the timing of the works and the methods used to conduct them; restrictions around parking and access; details of steps to be taken to minimise noise and disruption, and how the adjoining property will be protected from any potential damage, with an agreement to compensate its owner for any damage or losses related to the works.
Do be sure to choose your party wall surveyor wisely. The most experienced, accredited surveyors will go the extra mile to ensure your party wall agreement negotiations have a favourable outcome for everyone involved, whilst keeping costs to a minimum by reaching an amicable agreement swiftly.
Whether you’re undertaking construction works that fall under the Party Wall Act, or you’ve been served a Party Wall Notice, RICS accredited Icon Surveyors is ready to help with clear, qualified advice and reassuringly transparent party wall surveying pricing.
We offer 15 minutes of free telephone advice. There’s no obligation, and we’ll put the advice in writing if you need it. Contact us today and we’ll answer all your questions, including how to negotiate party wall agreements for the most successful outcome for everyone involved.