Can a neighbour refuse a party wall agreement? 

If you would first like an introduction into what a party wall agreement is, we would suggest watching our video on party walls, party wall agreements awards.

Once a party wall notice has been served by the ‘building owner’ to the ‘adjoining owner’ they have fourteen days to respond to the notice in writing, confirming whether or not they consent to the works being carried out. If they do not consent or simply do not respond within the fourteen days, it is deemed that they ‘dissent’ from the works, which triggers a dispute resolution procedure under the act (detailed below).

An adjoining owner (neighbour) cannot stop the building owner from carrying out works providing they are permissible under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and by all other law and statutory approvals, however the manner in which they respond can impact how the work is carried out. Areas that may be affected may include; the method of construction, associated protection to the adjoining owner’s building or property, safeguarding measures, timing and manner in which the Party Wall related works are to be carried out, compensation, access for carrying out the works and much more.

If a neighbouring owner does not respond within the fourteen days, an automatic ‘dissent’ is triggered under the act, which is usually followed by a ‘ten day notice letter’ served by the building owner carrying out the work, to the neighbouring owner, requesting that they provide details of the surveyor they wish to appoint within ten days. If the neighbouring owner fails to respond within the ten day period, the building owner has the right to appoint a surveyor on the neighbour’s behalf. There will then be a party wall surveyor acting for the building owner and a party wall surveyor acting for the adjoining owner, the two surveyors will then continue to produce and serve the party wall award / agreement in the usual way.

The neighbouring owner can also serve a ‘counter notice’ on the building owner, they may do this in a situation for example where they require the building owner to carry out additional construction work on the party wall over and above the works included in the notice. Neighbouring owners should be aware that the costs of such additional works may be split between the owners or fall on them if they are benefiting from these works. The neighbouring owner is obliged to respond within fourteen days to confirm whether or not they consent or dissent to the works. They then have one month to serve a counter notice and the building owner will then have fourteen days to respond to this counter notice.

Important: A building owner who served a party wall notice on a neighbouring owner cannot proceed with the planned works until they have received a response from the neighbouring owner or if they haven’t received a response, continue with the dispute resolution process as outlined in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. No response from the neighbour does not mean any agreement to the works being undertaken, the lack of response results in the neighbouring owner effectively getting the maximum level of ‘protection’ by means of a surveyor appointed on their behalf and a Party Wall Award / Agreement being produced. 

Need Further Help?

Here at Quatrefoils Ltd, we have a wealth of knowledge regarding the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 amongst many other issues surrounding the topic. If you need some advice or want some help on a project you are planning to undertake, please get in touch.