As an RICS Chartered Surveyor, I regularly provide 30 minutes free advice via the RICS Party Wall Consumer Helpline.
One of the most common questions I am asked by both building owners and adjoining owners is:
“My Party Wall Surveyor isn’t responding to what can I do?”
My take on this is as follows:
In the event that you have exhausted all attempts to contact and speak with your appointed Surveyor, fear not, as there are steps that can be followed to ensure that the Party Wall Award is agreed promptly.
Step 1: Speaking to the other owner’s Party Wall Surveyor
The first step I would recommend doing is speaking to the other neighbour’s Party Wall Surveyor.
Although that Surveyor is acting on behalf of your neighbour, the Party Wall etc Act 1996 requires both the building owner’s Surveyor and the adjoining owner’s Surveyor to be impartial. This should mean that the Surveyor is happy to assist in dealing with the matter.
In the event that the two respective Surveyors are in contact and going through the motions of agreeing the Party Wall Award, that may satisfy the enquiry.
However, in the event that the Surveyor hasn’t had contact from their counterpart, or likewise hasn’t received a response to their attempts of contact, you can then discuss the next step with the neighbour’s Surveyor.
Step 2: Requesting that the neighbour’s Surveyor serves a Section 10(7) Notice (also known as a request) upon the unresponsive Surveyor
Section 10(7) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 confirms:
“If a surveyor—neglects to act effectively for a period of ten days beginning with the day on which either party or the surveyor of the other party serves a request on him, the surveyor of the other party may proceed to act ex parte in respect of the subject matter of the request and anything so done by him shall be as effectual as if he had been an agreed surveyor”.
This Notice or request can only be served by a Surveyor upon his counterpart and essentially gives the unresponsive Surveyor a professional nudge to take action within the next 10 days.
In the event that the unresponsive Surveyor then didn’t respond to that Notice, the Surveyor who served the Notice would find themselves in the position whereby they could either proceed ex parte, or enjoin with the Third Surveyor in an attempt to agree and conclude the Party Wall Award.
Step 3: Surveyor Action
Now that the 10(7) Notice has been served and the response hasn’t been received, the Surveyor who served the Notice can now proceed and take the necessary action to agree the Party Wall Award.
It should be noted that the procedure has to be carefully thought through and considered, while also being discussed with both the Party Wall Surveyor and the Third Surveyor.
Assuming that both of those Surveyors are in agreement that the procedure is the most appropriate, following these steps should ensure that the Party Wall Award can be agreed in a time-effective manner which will likely avoid delay to the proposed construction works.