Party Wall Disputes & Basement Extension Disputes

Call 0345 872 6666

Party Wall Disputes

Party wall disputes frequently arise as part of demolition or construction works on or near shared boundaries. At JMW, our solicitors are the leading experts on this area of law and can help navigate you through these disputes, ensuring your rights are protected.

Where possible we encourage a resolution of party wall disputes by negotiation, mediation or other form of alternative dispute resolution, ensuring your concerns are effectively addressed while striving for a fair settlement.

Basement Extension Disputes

While basement extensions have become a popular way of providing additional accommodation to properties, they are also frequently the cause of disputes between neighbouring owners

Whenever feasible, we advocate for addressing disagreements related to basement extensions through negotiation, mediation or other modes of alternative dispute resolution. Our approach is designed to ensure your concerns are duly considered and managed, while working towards a fair resolution.

To speak to a solicitor about a party wall dispute or a basement extension dispute, call JMW today on 0345 872 6666. Alternatively, fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back at your convenience.

How JMW Can Help

Our solicitors, including Matthew Hearsum, a partner recognised as one of the leasing experts in this complex and specialist area of law, can provide advice and assistance when resolving disputes involving party walls and basement extensions.

We can help you understand the law by breaking down complex legal principles into simple, understandable terms, enabling you to make informed decisions. We can guide you through the dispute process, from the initial steps of serving or responding to a party wall notice, assisting with the resolution of and disputes by the tribunal of surveyors, and if necessary appealing any party wall award to the County Court.

Where the building owner has started demolition or construction works without first serving the required notice under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, we can advise on and represent you in applications for party wall injunctions.

Early legal advice can help prevent disputes from escalating or even arising. We can assist you in reviewing your proposed works to identify whether a notice is required, and then draft a detailed notice that meets the requirements of the Party Wall Act, reducing the chances of a dispute arising. We can also review notices served on you to confirm whether they are valid. If a dispute does arise, we can negotiate a solution on your behalf, or we can represent your interest in a determination by a tribunal of surveyors. We can also help you resolve claims for compensation for damage to adjoining properties.

Our team is skilled in mediation and dispute resolution strategies. We strive to reach a peaceful, mutually acceptable resolution whenever possible, saving you the stress and cost of court proceedings. We understand that party wall and basement extension disputes can be challenging and stressful. Our goal is to make the party wall process smoother and more manageable, helping you secure the best possible outcome.

When Do I Need to Serve a Party Wall Notice on my Neighbours?

The Party Wall Act regulates three types of building works:

  1. Building of new walls at or near the boundary.
  2. Works to an existing party wall or party structure, including demolition, rebuilding, repairing and underpinning.
  3. Excavations within three or six metres of structures on adjoining land, depending on the depth of the proposed excavations.

We can assist you in reviewing your proposed works to identify whether a notice is required, and then draft a detailed notice that meets the requirements of the Party Wall Act.

What is a Party Wall Award?

If a building owner has served a notice under the Party Wall Act, and the adjoining owner has not agreed to the works within 14 days, then a dispute is deemed to have arisen. This dispute is resolved by appointing a tribunal of party wall surveyors who will decide whether and how the building owner may carry out the works. The decision of the surveyors is called an “award”, though they are often mistakenly referred to as party wall agreements.

What is a Party Wall Agreement?

A party wall agreement is a contract between the building owner and one or more adjoining owners in which they agree how the building owner may carry out works that are subject to the Party Wall Act, but without the need to serve a notice or appoint a tribunal of surveyors because they are binding contracts between the building owner and the adjoining owner. We can assist you in drafting or advising on a draft party wall agreement.

Who Pays for a Party Wall Dispute?

In most cases, it is the building owner who will cover the costs incurred in the making of a party wall agreement or a party wall award. However, there are some cases where the adjoining owner may be required to pay some or all of the costs of making a party wall award, for example, if the adjoining owner has claimed compensation for damage that was not caused by the works, or if they claim compensation at an excessive level.

If you are concerned about whether you might be liable for the costs of an award we can advise you.

Can I Dispute a Party Wall Agreement or a Party Wall Award?

Party wall agreements (see above) are binding contracts entered into by the building owner and the adjoining owner, and generally cannot be challenged.

Party wall awards (see above, but sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘party wall agreements’) can be appealed to the County Court, but that appeal must be filed at the court within 14 days from, and including, the date on which the award was received.

The grounds on which a party wall award can be appealed are, broadly speaking, that the award was with wrong in law (i.e. the surveyors misapplied a legal principle, or applied the wrong legal principle) or that the award is wrong in fact (i.e. that the surveyors determined something incorrectly). It is also possible to ask the County Court to redetermine the dispute itself.

Party wall appeals can proceed either as a review or as a rehearing. If a party wall appeal proceeds as a review, the person appealing the award would have to show that there was an error of law or an error of fact as set out above. The parties to the party wall appeal can usually only rely on the evidence that was available at the time that the award was made.

If a party wall appeal proceeds as a rehearing, it is not necessary to show that the award was wrong, because the court will reopen the dispute and make its own decision. In a rehearing, the parties to the party wall appeal will usually be allowed to bring in fresh evidence, including evidence that was not available when the award was made.

Common grounds of party wall appeals against party walls awards are:

  • No right to carry out the proposed work: in some cases, party wall awards can appear to permit owners to carry out works the Party Wall Act does not allow.
  • Incorrect awards of compensation: the building owner is typically responsible for all of the consequences of the work, including compensation for and damage caused to the neighbouring property. If the building owner believes that the level of compensation is too high, or if the adjoining owner believes that the compensation is not enough, either party can appeal a party wall award.
  • Incorrect awards of costs: the building owner is in most (but not all) cases responsible for all the costs associated with the work, including the costs of surveyors, engineers and other consultants. If the building owner thinks that the costs awarded are excessive, if the adjoining owner believes that they should have recovered more of their costs, either or both can appeal to the County Court.
  • Interference with enjoyment of property: if the adjoining owner believes the proposed work will cause unnecessary inconvenience or disturbance, or could negatively affect their ability to enjoy the property, they may have grounds to appeal to the County Court.

In any case, it is advisable to seek legal advice if you are involved in a dispute over work on a party wall. A solicitor with expertise in this area can help you understand your rights and the best course of action.

Talk to Us

If you’re involved in a party wall or basement extension dispute, don’t hesitate to contact JMW Solicitors. Contact us today by calling 0345 872 6666, or by filling in our online enquiry form to request a call back.