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 (in writing), after which your neighbour is deemed to have dissented from the notice. 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.
What if I don’t receive a reply to my party wall notice within 14 days?
After 14 days of silence your party wall surveyor, or you, should write to your neighbour and confirm that as 14 days have elapsed since the date of the notice, they are deemed to have dissented and have to appoint a party wall surveyor to act for them within 10 days. That could be their own surveyor, or they could use yours as an Agreed Surveyor acting for both parties.
What happens if we still don’t hear from our neighbour?
Assuming all stays silent, then you can appoint a surveyor to act for your neighbour after 10 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 That appointment is binding and cannot be rescinded by the adjoining owner should they suddenly ‘wake up’.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 (because both parties have been unable to agree).
Did the neighbouring property owner receive the party wall notice?
This is crucial – you need to make sure your neighbour actually received the party wall notice in the first place. Are the party wall notices correctly addressed? Have they been properly completed and served? Check our guidance here. Be aware that the addresses of owners at the Land Registry are not always correct. 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 try to allow 17 days for the first stage to overcome postal delays, then 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!
Can I continue without agreement from my neighbour if they don’t respond?
Even if you have appointed a party wall surveyor for your neighbour that does not mean that access to take a schedule of condition is possible. In that case you may find the party wall surveyors have to make a ‘blind’ party wall award.
What you must not do, is assume that because you haven’t heard from your neighbours you can ignore them and just commence 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 or complete our quick enquiry form (add your phone number if you want a surveyor to call you).