It happens all the time. You serve a party wall notice, wait and then… nothing.
So what do you do? Well, as far as the Party Wall etc Act is concerned there are 14 days to reply, after which your neighbour is deemed to have dissented.
Strictly speaking that means that if they come back on the 16th day wanting to consent, they can’t because they are time barred, but very often common sense will prevail in a case like that.
After 14 days of silence your surveyor or you should write and confirm that as 14 days have elapsed since the date of the notice then they are deemed to have dissented and so have to appoint a surveyor to act for them within 10 days.
Assuming all stays silent then the building owner can appoint a surveyor to act for his neighbour (the adjoining owner) after ten days without further recourse to them. That appointment is binding and cannot be rescinded by the adjoining owner should they suddenly “wake up”. A surveyor appointed in this manner cannot act as an Agreed Surveyor.
So far so simple, but you do need to check a few things: Is the notice correctly addressed and has it been properly served. The addresses of building owners at the Land Registry are not always correct, particularly for buy to let investors.
Quite often we find owners getting back to us late in the day because their tenants have only just got round to forwarding on post. We always recommend allowing 17 days for the first stage to overcome postal delays and 14 days for the second stage for the same reason. We also make allowance for public holidays – we don’t have to, but we try and take a reasonable approach!
Even then you may find the surveyors have to make a “blind” party wall award because there is no easy access into your neighbour’s property to take the schedule.
What you must not do, is assume that because you haven’t heard from your neighbours you can ignore them and just crack on with your works.
Find out more detailed information about Party Walls and the service we provide in the Party Wall section of this site.
If you need further free advice on party wall problems, please get in touch.
(Originally written by Steven Way, 1 August 2011)
*Image – allyaubrey via flickr