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What Happens If Your Neighbour Refuses to Sign a Party Wall Agreement?


So, you’re planning that long-awaited renovation or extension, and you've diligently followed all the necessary steps, including serving your neighbour with a party wall notice. But what if they refuse to respond and sign their acknowledgement? It’s a common concern, and understandably so. Let’s delve into what happens next.


Understanding the Situation


First things first, it’s essential to grasp why your neighbour might refuse to sign. Sometimes it's simply due to misunderstanding or unawareness of the process. Other times, it could be concerns over the proposed works, potential disruption, or simply a reluctance to cooperate.


Attempting Communication


Before anything else, it’s advisable to try to communicate with your neighbour. Often, a friendly conversation can clear up misunderstandings or address concerns. Explaining the necessity of the party wall agreement and how it protects both parties' interests might alleviate their worries.


Seeking Mediation


If direct communication doesn’t work, you might consider mediation. A neutral third party can help facilitate discussion and negotiation between you and your neighbour. Mediation can be a less confrontational and more cost-effective way to resolve disputes compared to legal proceedings.


Party Wall Surveyor’s Involvement


If communication and mediation fail to yield results, the next step involves appointing a party wall surveyor. If your neighbour refuses to appoint their own surveyor, you can appoint one on their behalf. The surveyor(s) will assess the proposed works, prepare the party wall agreement (Award), and ensure that both parties' interests are protected.


Legal Implications


In some cases, despite all efforts, your neighbour might remain adamant about not signing the agreement. While this can delay your project, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s off the table. The party wall legislation allows for what is known as a ‘deemed dissent’ after 14 days of the party wall notice being served. This means that if your neighbour does not respond within that time frame, a further '10-day notice' will be sent, explaining that they are deemed to have dissented, and a dispute is said to have arisen. After this additional 10-day period, if there is still no communication from your neighbour, a surveyor can be appointed on their behalf to ensure the party wall process can continue without your neighbour's input.


Resolving the Dispute


Once a dispute arises, it may need to be settled through legal means. This could involve the appointment of an agreed surveyor or each party appointing their own surveyor. The surveyors will then determine a fair and reasonable party wall agreement, taking into account the interests of both parties.


Conclusion


Dealing with a neighbour who refuses to sign a party wall agreement can be stressful and frustrating, but it’s not the end of the road for your project. By understanding the process, communicating effectively, and seeking mediation or professional assistance when needed, you can navigate through the situation and ensure that your project proceeds smoothly while maintaining a good relationship with your neighbour.

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