Party Wall Awards, Appeals and Injunctions
by Peter Richards — Posted on 26 May, 2017
Party Wall disputes – remedies
How party wall appeals work and the potential remedies a claimant may receive
What is a party wall and when can I apply for a party wall appeal?
Party Wall disputes arise when a landowner wants to make structural changes to their property which may have an effect on their neighbour’s property. This is most commonly because they want to make alterations to a shared wall (the Party Wall). If you want to make these alterations to the Party Wall, you must inform your neighbours of the project and what it might involve. Your neighbours can either do the following:
- agree to the project or
- require you, the landowner, to take precautions such as using specialist builders.
If you and your neighbour cannot agree on these extra requirements, you must each appoint a surveyor who will decide between them what requirements to include (called a Party Wall Award).
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 states that each neighbour appoints a surveyor who together acts as an independent arbitrator. They work out a reasonable solution and prepare the Party Wall Award. At this stage the surveyors are under no obligation to accept or follow the wishes or instructions of their “client”.
How we helped our client to appeal the party wall award
Starck Uberoi Solicitors were recently approached by a client who had to obtain a party wall award in order to carry out a loft extension to her house which involved cutting sockets in a party wall. She was unhappy that the party wall award obliged her to pay almost £4,000.00 to her neighbours for their costs of having a surveyor, and required her to place £2,000.00 in an escrow account where her neighbours would be able to access the funds if there were any damage to their property, with a fee of £380.00 for placing the money in the escrow account.
Our client explained that her neighbours had hired a surveyor who had insisted on these requirements. Our client had agreed a fixed fee for her Party Wall consultant who was not a chartered surveyor. He had given in on these issues and had not advanced our client’s view that it was unnecessary for her to place money in an escrow account for such works, let alone agreement to the unreasonable fee of £4,000.00. Although according to the act he was not under a duty to follow our client’s instructions, he was under a duty to only agree an award that is reasonable. Our client did not believe the award was reasonable.
Challenging a party wall award
Under section 10(17) of the Party Wall Act 1996, the legal requirement to challenge the party wall award by making an appeal to the Court within 14 days if a party wall award is unreasonable, otherwise the party wall award will stand. Our barrister agreed that the fees were far too high and that for a simple project it is not reasonable for the landowner to have to deposit funds in an escrow account.
Outcome of the party wall award by way of appeal
Having sought advice on the evidence faced with the prospect of having to fight the case in court, our client’s neighbours agreed to reduce their surveyors fees to £1,500.00, to remove the clause concerning the escrow account and to pay our client’s legal costs in full.
What we recommend you do if you are looking to do construction works on your property
- Using a chartered surveyor who is a member of RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). RICS regulations ensure that a chartered surveyor will provide you with high-quality service.
- Ensuring that if an award appears unreasonable, you act by instructing experience solicitors as soon as possible so that if an appeal is necessary it reaches the court within the 14-day deadline.
Party wall injunction if my neighbour continues with the works without a Party Wall notice?
If your neighbour commences work on their property without giving notice for the constructions on the Party Wall you can obtain a Party Wall Injunction. This gives you the legal right as a Party Wall owner to stop your neighbour from continuing with their planned works. Party Wall etc. Act 1996 covers only certain types of constructions works. These works are:
- Front, side and rear extensions
- Internal structural works
- Loft conversions
- Basement excavations
Starck Uberoi are here to help
If you are planning constructions works on your Party Wall or your neighbour is planning works and you are worried whether you have the right to oppose these works, Starck Uberoi Solicitors have a dedicated team of specialist solicitors who have dealt with many Party Wall disputes, appeals and injunctions. Please contact our Property Litigation Solicitors on 020 8840 6640 for further advice on Party Wall disputes, awards and injunctions. We are based in Ealing, our office is located 10 minutes from Ealing Broadway Station.