In this blog, Icon Surveyors will discuss whether it is legal or not if there are circumstances in which a neighbour has the legal right to appoint a surveyor.
In the simplest of terms,
Unless a neighbour is an ‘owner’; as described under section 20 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, there is no right to appoint a surveyor. On the other hand, if a neighbour is either a "building owner" or an "adjoining owner" as per section 20 of the Act, depending on the material facts of the case, either or both are, under these terms section 10 of the Act, entitled to appoint a surveyor on the other’s behalf.
The key point for the purposes of this blog is that a surveyor can only be appointed under the section 10 provisions of the Act, if, and only if, a dispute is deemed to have arisen.
Under section 1 or indeed, section 6 of the Act, a building owner that is carrying out any works that are listed in section 2 of the Act is legally bound to notify any and/or all ‘adjoining owner’(s). This may be done by either sending a letter or a statutory notice notifying any and/or all adjoining owner(s) of the works the building owner proposes to carry out. Although a building owner is required under section 7 to compensate an ‘adjoining occupier’ for any damage that has resulted from any work the building owner has carried out, despite the provisions under subsection 1(8) and sections 5, 6, & 7 of the Act pertaining to any disputes arising between a building owner and an adjoining "owner" or "occupier" as determined in accordance with section 10 of the Act, unless the occupier has a specified interest in the land/property, that is, an interest as stated under section 20 of the Act, an ‘adjoining occupier’ is not permitted under the Act to appoint a surveyor. As will be seen below, section 10 provides for both a building owner and an adjoining owner to appoint a surveyor.
Where a dispute has been deemed to have arisen under any of the above-stated sections of the Act, the parties to the dispute are required to adhere to section 10. Section 10 provides for the procedure parties to the dispute must follow. Subsection 10(1) requires a surveyor to be appointed to resolve the dispute. Under section 10(1)(a), a single surveyor can be appointed by agreement of the disputing parties and/or under section 10(1)(b), each of the disputing parties may appoint their own surveyor. This subsection also provides that a third surveyor may be appointed if the two appointed surveyors are unable to resolve matters between the disputing parties.
Under section 10(4) of the Act, if either party to the dispute refuses or neglects to appoint a surveyor under section 10(1)(b) within 10 days of the other party’s request to appoint a surveyor, the requesting party is, under this section, permitted to appoint a surveyor on the other party's behalf.
In answer to the question, a "neighbour" who is a "building owner" or an ‘adjoining owner’ who has become engaged in a dispute, must comply with section 10 and appoint a surveyor. Any failure to do so grants the complying party permission to appoint a surveyor on the other's behalf. Icon Surveyors are happy to provide a free consultation to any building or adjoining owners who may be affected by the subject matter raised in this blog.
Note: This blog is not an authoritative interpretation of the law; it is intended as a general guide.