Party wall disputes can occur anytime. In terms of real estate, a party wall is a common wall shared by two independent property owners. It can either be structural or non-structural. For instance, in the former case party wall is a dividing wall between two houses with terraces; in the latter scenario, it can be a garden wall.
Sometimes a single wall on an owner’s land utilized by two (or more) proprietors to separate their buildings is also labeled as a party wall. You find party walls in places where various inhabitants share a multi-unit structure, such as apartment suites, office complexes etc.
The standard wall raises disagreements among the neighbours over the boundaries and are termed as party wall disputes. In this article, we will discuss party wall disputes in detail.
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What are Party Wall Disputes?
Regular discussions between two parties over the locality, width, maintenance charges, and possession of a boundary line many a time lead to heated arguments known as party wall disputes. These disputes often arise because landlords get the impression that “someone is trying to overtake their part of the land.”
To avoid neighbour disputes; Party Wall Act 1996 is designed that stipulate rules and regulations around proprietorship and maintenance commitments for a shared wall.
Reasons behind Party Wall Disputes
Boundary wall disputes can occur for various reasons, some of which are as below;
One of the owners moves the fence or starts construction without the consent of the other.
Owners rely on an arrangement that does not explicitly explain what is on the grounds.
Failing to comply with the Party Wall Act can also end with boundary disputes – one such situation ascends when one of the two owners has sent a legal written notice to its adjoining neighbour regarding the construction he will start. But the neighbour fails to reply with his permission for various reasons.
How to Avoid Party Wall Disputes?
All disputes can be settled if both the owners accept and follow the legal procedures. For instance, discussing the construction plans with your adjoining owner can save you from any legal engagements. Try to be honest about the amount and type of construction you will start and deliberately discuss the plan in detail.
The Party Wall Dispute Resolution
If everything fails and the party wall dispute arises anyway, do not worry, as every problem has a solution. The boundary wall dispute resolution acts in two ways;
· Formulating an award.
The first way involves the hiring of an independent party wall surveyor. A party wall surveyor is a person who works for neither of the two parties; instead, he is impartial and solves the issue in a completely unbiased manner. He is bound to make an equitable decision based on Party Wall Acts’ clauses and not on the owner’s wishes and grants.
The party wall surveyor must be;
- An experienced individual with a handful amount of knowledge regarding the Party wall Act.
- Have a complete understanding of the construction business.
- Well-versed with the details of both the adjoining properties.
The adjacent owners have the liberty to appoint a single-party wall surveyor or two separate individuals as surveyors as per their likings.
In the latter case scenario, both the surveyors will work as a unit to formulate a document often referred to as ‘award’ based on both the owners’ interests and rights and make a fair decision.
In an event where both the surveyors fail to reach an agreement, appointing a third surveyor becomes a necessity as he will be the one to arbitrate.
Party wall disputes are inevitable, but they certainly do not have to turn into warfare with your neighbours. To avoid these disputes, Party Wall Act is designed that ensure the settlement of these clashes by keeping intact the rights of adjoining owners in a swift, cost-effective, and peaceful manner. Besides, you can always hire a qualified surveyor to help you maintain a cordial relation with your neighbours and do things professionally.
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