A dispute that is in a Party Wall sense of the word isn’t any kind of dispute regardless of what the Act states it is. In the Party Wall etc. Act of 1996, if an adjacent owner isn’t willing to sign the agreement within 14 days of being notified of the proposed works, then the parties are considered to be “in dispute”. The method by which disputes pursuant to the Act are settled is through the owner of the property selecting a surveyor and the surveyors agreeing to the terms of the party wall agreement, also called the Party Wall Agreement.
Even if an adjoining owner chooses to agree with their neighbor’s choice of a surveyor to be an “agreed surveyor” (normally an ideal choice for small works) there’s a “dispute” to be resolved therefore an award has to be made and given to the owner.
In essence, what an adjoining owner is essentially saying when they initiate the dispute is that they want to be protected in their interests by an individual who knows the construction process and is acquainted with the rules of the Party Wall Act.
It’s not that difficult for an owner who is adjacent to start a dispute, they are not required to do anything whatsoever. If Party Structure Notices or Notices of Adjacent Excavation received are not received by the owner within 14 days after being received, a dispute is considered to be arose.
The owner who is adjacent may choose to appoint an expert (or agree to the selection of an approved surveyor) within 14 days but they shouldn’t rush into their decision. When the 14-day period has expired, they must receive an email asking to select the surveyor for the Party Wall within the preceding 10 days. Otherwise, they risk being appointed on their behalf of them by the owner of the building (the person who is planning the work). If the building owner is granted the right to choose an official on behalf of their neighbor that is not the same surveyor as they have chosen to use; an approved surveyor is not able to be appointed until the owners agree to this appointment by writing.
When a dispute arises, the building owner as well as the adjoining owner shift from being “clients” to “appointing owners” The terminology is a reminder of the obligation of the surveyor to be completely impartial. A surveyor may serve an order on behalf of the client as at that point, it’s unclear whether the owner of the adjoining property will agree or not. If they agree, there is no prize and there will be no need for the party wall surveyor.
If you’re looking to create an invitation to a party, use our Wall Notice Generator for your party. Wall Notice Generator tool.
If you live in the London M25 zone, you can reach the authors of this article and the party walls group on Peter Barry Chartered Surveyors, at 020 7183 2578 or via email and get up to 20 minutes of no-cost assistance on parties wall dispute and other related issues to party walls.