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Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions.
What happens if I do not serve a notice as required under the Act?
The Act carries no fines or penalties but it is possible that the adjoining owner may apply to the court to have an injunction served in order that you will stop work.
What happens if the adjoining owner does not reply to the notice within 14 days?
Under section 1 of the Act, where you wish to build a new wall on the line of junction, you will have the right only to build on your own land.
In respect of a notice served under sections 2 and 6 of the Act, if there is no reply to the notice after 14 days then a dispute is deemed to have arisen and you and your neighbour must appoint a surveyor. If your neighbour still fails to respond, then after giving a further ten days to reply, you may appoint a surveyor on his behalf.
What happens if I do not agree with what my appointed surveyor is doing?
You are unable to rescind his appointment but you can approach the third surveyor to resolve the matter for you. However, if you have chosen to have just the one surveyor called the ‘agreed surveyor’, then there is no third surveyor to call upon.
This is why you should take care in selecting a surveyor and more particularly as to whether you just need the one ‘agreed surveyor’.
Do I have to inform my neighbour if I am just putting up bookshelves or fixing electrical socket outlets to the party wall?
This sort of work would be considered to be minor and such works would not need to be notified under the Act.
What do the surveyors do?
The surveyors prepare the award, which is a legal document between the two owners. The surveyors normally meet at the property and prepare a schedule of condition (although not a requirement of the Act). The schedule of condition assists all parties as any damage that may be caused can be checked against it and compensation awarded if required.
Who pays the surveyors' fees?
Under normal circumstances the building owner would pay the fees, (known as costs) as he is the one undertaking the works, usually for his benefit. However, the surveyors will make the final determination.
What if I do not agree with the contents of the Award?
Both the building owner and the adjoining owner can appeal the award in the County Court within 14 days of being served the award. You should probably, of course, speak with your appointed surveyor on the matter before doing so, as he is likely to be able to answer your query.
As a building owner, do I have the right of access to my neighbour’s property to undertake the work, and as an adjoining owner do I have to grant access to the building owner to undertake the work?
If a surveyor has been appointed you must take his advice. There is a right of access within working hours on notice, but only if it is to undertake the notifiable work in accordance with the Act.
I have doubts as to whether the building owner can complete the work properly
If you are in doubt on this, you can by notice require the building owner to set aside an amount of money, as agreed between yourselves or determined by the surveyors, as security that would allow the works that affect you to be completed.
Does the Act override other legal rights?
Common Law rights are restricted by this Act where the Act would take precedence on any matter for which it makes provision. Any other rights, easements or covenants for example, are not affected.
Can the Act be used to resolve a boundary dispute?
The Act is not there to resolve such matters and the surveyors do not have any power to do so.
Practically speaking in the event that the boundary is not agreed the Act cannot be applied until the matter is resolved. This would not apply in the case of a section 6 notice, which only deals with an excavation within a certain distance of the adjoining owner’s building or structure, and in this case the position of the boundary is irrelevant.