The Party Wall Act of 1996 was enforced to ensure neighbours could coexist peacefully when undertaking building works that may affect the shared walls between their properties. The act requires homeowners to notify their neighbours and obtain a Party Wall Agreement before starting work. However, what happens when your neighbour refuses to sign the agreement, and you cannot proceed with your building plans?
Understanding the Party Wall Act
The Party Wall Act applies to all buildings, including residential and commercial properties. The act requires homeowners to serve their neighbours with notice at least two months before starting any work that may affect the shared walls, including extensions, loft conversions, and basement renovations.
The notice should include:
- Detailed plans and specifications of the proposed works.
- The proposed start date.
- The duration of the works.
The notice should also state that the homeowner intends to obtain a Party Wall Agreement and provide the neighbour with a copy of the act.
Once the neighbour receives the notice, they have 14 days to respond. If the neighbour agrees to the works, they sign the Party Wall Agreement, and the homeowner can proceed with the building plans. However, if the neighbour refuses to sign the agreement, the homeowner must follow the procedures outlined in the Party Wall Act.
What to Do When Your Neighbour Refuses
If your neighbour refuses to sign the Party Wall Agreement, the first step is to resolve the issue amicably. You can converse with your neighbour, explaining why the building works are necessary and how they will benefit both properties. If your neighbour still refuses to sign the agreement, you can seek the services of a party wall surveyor.
A party wall surveyor is an expert who specialises in party wall matters. The surveyor will act as a neutral third party and help resolve the dispute between the homeowner and the neighbour.
The surveyor will assess the proposed works and create a Party Wall Award, a legal document that stipulates the rights and obligations of both parties.
The Party Wall Award will include details such as the start date and duration of the works, the scope of the works, and compensation for any damages that may occur during the building works. The surveyor will ensure that the Party Wall Award is fair and reasonable to both parties.
It is essential to note that both parties must pay their respective party wall surveyor's fees, even if the neighbour refuses to sign the Party Wall Agreement. However, the surveyor's fees are significantly lower than the costs that may arise if the dispute escalates to court.
What Happens If the Dispute Escalates?
If the neighbour still refuses to sign the Party Wall Agreement and the dispute escalates, you may need to seek legal advice. You can file an injunction to the County Court to prevent the neighbour from interfering with your building works. However, this can be a lengthy and expensive process.
It is crucial to note that the Party Wall Act is in place to protect both parties rights and ensure that building works are carried out safely and with minimal disruption. Following the procedures outlined in the act is essential to avoid disputes and legal action.
Obtaining a Party Wall Agreement is a legal requirement when undertaking building works that may affect shared walls between properties. If your neighbour refuses to sign the agreement, it is essential to resolve the issue amicably.
If this fails, seeking the services of a party wall surveyor can help resolve the dispute. If the dispute escalates, seeking legal advice may be necessary. Following the procedures outlined in the Party Wall Act is crucial to avoid disputes and legal action.
If you need assistance navigating the Party Wall Act, contact Icon Surveyors today. Our team of experienced party wall surveyors can help you understand your rights and obligations under the act, and ensure that your building works are carried out in compliance with the law. Call us today to schedule a consultation.