Our Adjoining Owner is holding up Proceedings by Cancelling Access for a Schedule and Now Wishes to Change their Appointed Surveyor. Can They Do This?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

We bought a terraced cottage with planning permission for a single and two storey extension in November and immediately issued a Party Wall Notice to the neighbours on either side. One side replied immediately, and said they were happy with the proposed plans but would like to appoint their own surveyor.

I agreed to this, and finally tracked down the other neighbour to ask if they were happy to use the same surveyor. They said yes, but made it difficult for us to gain access to their cottage for the inspection, claiming that not only would they be at the cottage infrequently, but no neighbours held keys and they were unwilling to send their keys to the appointed surveyor.

Finally one date was set, but cancelled by the tricky neighbour a few days before. Finally a second date was set, and I scheduled the surveyor to come again. On the specified date the tricky neighbour, predictably, wasn’t at his house so only an external inspection could be made for the Schedule of Condition. Three days later I received an email from said neighbour claiming an emergency had prevented him from getting to the cottage.

He is now getting a quote from another surveyor (whom we suspect may be a friend of his). Given that we gave him ample opportunities to use our initial surveyor (which he had consented to in writing), are we now legally obliged to pay for the appointment of this additional surveyor? It does seem that this neighbour is using any tactic to slow down our progress.

Answer

If your neighbour has formally appointed a surveyor (i.e. in writing) that appointment cannot be rescinded (see Section 10(2) of the Act).
 
It will be up to the appointed surveyor (I’m assuming he is acting as the Agreed Surveyor) to decide whether the Adjoining Owner has been given ample opportunity to provide access for a schedule to be recorded. If he considers that it has he should complete the Award on the basis of the external schedule that was taken.