If a building owner starts work without first serving the required notice under the Party Wall Act the adjoining owner can apply to the Court for an emergency injunction stopping the works. But party wall injunctions are not the only option.
Where the building owner serves a notice and the adjoining owner does not agree to the works within 14 days then a “deemed” dispute arises (for example, under section 5 or section 6(7)), and surveyors can be appointed to determine the “deemed” dispute. But the ability to appoint surveyors is not limited to “deemed” disputes arising from notices. Surveyors can be appointed at any time to deal with actual disputes between the building owner and the adjoining owner whether or not a notice being served,.
[pullquote_right]”…surveyors can be appointed at any time whether or not a notice is served…”[/pullquote_right]If the building owner refuses to take part in appointing the surveyors then, under section 10(4), the adjoining owner can appoint a surveyor on behalf of the building owner.
Once the surveyors are appointed they can determine any disputes between the adjoining owner and the building owner. This may include removing works for inspection, or taking action to safeguard or repair the adjoining owners’ property, and will usually include a direction that the building owner pays all of the costs.
This option has the advantage of resolving disputes between the building and adjoining owners at substantially less cost than applying for a party wall injunction. However, the process can take anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks, and in the interim the building owner can continue with his works, and cause damage to the adjoining owners property.
It would therefore be a good idea to ensure that a surveyor attends as soon as possible to take a schedule of condition of the adjoining owners property. This ensures that the surveyors can identify which damage was caused by the building owner’s works.