It can come as a nasty surprise if your neighbour starts work to your party wall without sending you a party wall notice first. But does your neighbour have to serve you with a notice? And if he doesn’t, what can you do about it?
Often, clients contact us, asking for help in exactly this situation. Usually, clients are worried that the only course of action open to them is to apply for an injunction to stop the works until the formalities have been complied with. Injunctions can be expensive and carry the risk of having to pay costs if the application is lost.
But there is an alternative. Before the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 came into effect, it was widely assumed that a surveyor couldn’t make an award unless a party wall notice had been served.
Section 10 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 says,
“The agreed surveyor or as the case may be the three surveyors or any two of them shall settle by award any matter…which is connected with any work to which this Act relates”
The wording of section 10 of the party wall act means that it is not essential that a Party Wall notice has to be served before a party wall surveyor can make an award. This means that if your neighbour has started party wall works without serving a notice, you can chose to appoint a surveyor, who can make an award setting out how the works should be carried in a way that protects your property from damage, and stating who should be responsible for making good any damage.
In cases where there is a real danger that your property might be caused damage, you may still be better advised to apply for an injunction to stop the works immediately. We can help you to decide which would be the best option for you.