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When a neighbour refuses your party wall agreement

So, you’re planning building works to your property. You’re probably excited about your extension or loft conversion, spending a lot of money and looking forward to the end result.

You engage an experienced, specialist party wall surveyor, like the team at Richmond Futures, who confirm that the work you are undertaking will fall under the Party Wall Act as your property shares a wall with your neighbour’s. 

They draw up the right Party Wall Notices and serve them in good time before your work is scheduled to start.

Everything is going smoothly until your neighbour dissents to your Party Wall Notices.

Your neighbour is entitled to do this, but don’t worry. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to go ahead with your plans. 

In this article, our expert team at Richmond Futures, a leading chartered surveyor in the London area, explains what everyone’s rights are and what you need to do next. 

A party wall agreement

When you are undertaking building works that are on or close to a party wall, or you need to excavate within three to six metres of your neighbour’s property, you are legally obliged to let your neighbours know in advance, by serving them with Party Wall Notices.

Depending on the type of work, they need to be served at least one to two months before your works are scheduled to start.

There are various types of Party Wall Notices. Which ones you will need for your building project, and the detail they need to include, is all covered in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 which is UK legislation applicable in England and Wales.

The good news is that the Party Wall Act is an enabling Act. This means that its aim is to help the building process run smoothly when there are party walls involved, rather than help to block people’s plans. The Act is also there to protect everyone’s interests.

When you serve your Party Wall Notices, your neighbour has two choices – to agree or to dissent. Actually, they also have a third choice which is to not reply at all.

If they agree, the process is straightforward and your building work can go ahead.


What happens if your neighbour refuses your party wall agreement

If your neighbour refuses or ‘dissents’ to agree to your planned building works, you must not go ahead. If you do, your neighbour could take you to court to stop you, which could cause you significant expense, hassle and delay.

You are now deemed to be ‘in dispute’ and the only option if you want to proceed with your building works is to negotiate with your neighbour until you reach agreement.

It might be as simple as reassuring them that you will put reasonable measures in place to avoid foreseeable damage to your property, and that your builders will be as considerate as possible, only working specific hours, and being mindful of causing minimal noise disruption for example.

A Photographic Schedule of Condition can also be very helpful in encouraging your neighbour to agree to your works. Through numerous photos, ideally taken by a professional surveyor, the condition of your neighbour’s property is recorded before any work starts. This gives your neighbour peace of mind that any damage caused by your building works can be demonstrated, proved and put right.

It benefits you, too, as having a detailed record of the condition of their property will equally protect you, from them making an unjustified claim.

Hopefully, after discussing how the work is going to be carried out, and officially recording the condition of their property before you start, your neighbour will have been given enough reassurance to now choose to agree to your Party Wall Notices.

Next steps if your neighbour still refuses to consent to your building works

Your neighbour doesn’t have the legal right to stop you using your rights under the Party Wall Act. (They also do not have the right to block access to you carrying out building works once an agreement is in place.)

There is a correct procedure to follow, however, which will increase your costs and cause delays to your project.

Your neighbour may choose to appoint their own surveyor to negotiate with your surveyor. This would be at your cost, as the party who has chosen to initiate the project and is benefiting from the works.

If your surveyors can’t agree, you will need to appoint an impartial third surveyor to resolve the dispute. They will ensure the Party Wall Act’s stipulations are carefully followed, and their involvement should help to break a stalemate between you and your neighbour if there is a particular point that you can’t agree on.

You would also be responsible for the third surveyor’s fees.


What happens if your neighbour doesn’t reply to your Party Wall Notice

Your neighbour has 14 days to respond to your Party Wall Notice. If they don’t, you then issue another Party Wall Notice which they have a further 10 days to respond to.

If they still don’t respond, you are officially ‘in dispute’ and you and your surveyor can start the process of negotiation, appointing a third surveyor if necessary, to get to the point of agreeing a Party Wall Award so that you can start your building works.


How to avoid your neighbour refusing your party wall agreement

Your ideal scenario is that your neighbour doesn’t dissent to your Party Wall Notices. To give you the best chance of getting them to agree, we recommend that you engage them as early as possible in the process. 

If you have a good relationship with them, you will hopefully get the opportunity to talk to them informally about your plans, explaining how it might affect them and answering any questions they may have. It is understandable that they may be initially concerned, but being open about everything should be reassuring for them.

Even if you’re not close to your neighbours, being considerate and courteous and keeping them informed should be effective in smoothing the way for them being co-operative and amenable.

Contact Richmond Futures today

If you have any other questions about party walls, or you have a party wall project that you need support with now, our experienced and qualified team of surveyors are here to help you, and ready to respond quickly.

You can call us on 0208 412 7967, or email us at

We look forward to hearing from you!

All our surveyors at Richmond Futures are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the industry’s regulatory authority. Their strict regulations mean that we have to follow rules of conduct and keep up to date with the latest developments in the industry, ensuring that we are committed to providing you with expert advice that is clear, concise, accurate and in your best interests.

Schedule of Condition

Avoid any construction-related disputes with your neighbour – safeguard yourself by having a surveyor conduct an inspection of their property and record its condition in the form of a Schedule of Condition, including clear photographs. This key step could help to prevent costly arguments later down the line when it comes time for building work.

Consulting with a surveyor before proposing any structural changes can ensure the surrounding properties are properly protected. A detailed report is created to show neighbouring property owners how their current condition and any existing damage, if applicable, will be documented at the start of construction – a useful point of reference for comparison later down the line.

Before any building works begin, a Schedule of Condition should be completed to determine who is liable in the event that damage arises. This will provide an unbiased point of reference for both you and your neighbour to clarify responsibility; moreover it gives everyone involved peace-of-mind knowing all potential issues are addressed from the outset.

Your neighbour has the right to dissent to the works you are proposing in your Party Wall Notice. If this happens, you are then deemed to be ‘in dispute’ under the Act. This dispute then needs to be resolved, either by an ‘Agreed Surveyor’ – a surveyor who, as the name suggests, has been agreed on by both the homeowner and the Adjoining Owner or, alternatively, by two separate surveyors, who will put in place a Party Wall Award.

Party Wall Award

When a Party Wall Notice is not agreed to, the official resolution that follows is termed a “Party Wall Award”. This document contains three critical components: an award detailing how works should progress, drawings exhibiting details of these proposed activities and photos accompanied by a Schedule of Condition for the adjoining property.

This document will provide a comprehensive look at the properties in question, including detailed information about their owners and surveyors.

Unless otherwise stated, the one who stands to gain from building works is responsible for covering associated Party Wall costs. This includes compensating surveyors representing both property owners involved in this process.

What happens upon the completion of the works

To ensure the utmost satisfaction of both parties, we highly recommend performing a Schedule of Condition to compare the pre-work state against post-completion. Doing so will help confirm that your Party Wall works have been completed in line with expectations and leave you neighbours feeling contented.

How Westville Associates can help you

We are proud to have achieved a distinguished status of accreditation from the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. This recognition highlights our expertise in this specialised field and reflects our commitment towards upholding the requirements set by The Party Wall etc Act 1996.

Our experienced team of accredited Party Wall professionals are here to help. If you have queries or want more information about the process, book a free 15 minute consultation with us at no obligation!

We would be delighted to discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding properties and surveys.

Email us at or give us a call on 02084 127 967 and one of our experienced surveyors will be happy to help you.