I am planning Repairs to a Defective Wall of my Out-Building and my Neighbour appears to be Difficult in Replying to the Notice.

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

I am planning on restoring, underpinning re-pointing and rebuilding defective brickwork of my detached out building .
 
I issued my neighbour with a party wall notice and we  received a letter back asking what the party wall notice meant even though we had enclosed a cover letter explaining. We replied with a letter describing the procedure and he  replied with a letter saying he intended to appoint a surveyor but wanted an agreement that I would cover all costs incurred.

We replied saying that it would be for the surveyors to decide the costs but as I am the building owner it is usual that I would meet the reasonable cost of their surveyor. We then received a letter back stating that if I gave him information regarding what access was required and time scale he could see no problem why this couldn’t be resolved! 
 
It is difficult to see the state of the two walls on his side as he has ivy covering them, and is now going up the roof from his side so we gave him a reasonably detailed schedule of works but were not able to put exact dates as a contractor has yet to be appointed, it was basically to be carried out over 6 weeks. 

Since we sent the schedule we have heard nothing. We sent a follow up letter recorded on the asking if he could reply within 7 days with any issues or we would have to issue the ten day notice and presume he was in decent and we would appoint a surveyor on his behalf. Still no response. So we have sent a ten day notice saying we will appoint a surveyor on his behalf if no reply. 
 
The questions I have are:-

  1. If he replies with questions does this invalidate the 10 day notice?
  2. If he doesn’t reply and I appoint a surveyor on his behalf, does the surveyor then have to make contact with him, what if he ignores the surveyors letters?
  3. Will the surveyor agree that the ivy has to be removed to re-point the wall.Does the schedule seem reasonable?

Answer

To answer your specific questions:

  1. As long as the notice itself was valid it will not have been invalidated by follow up questions. A valid notice should be dated, include the names and signatures of all Building Owners, give a brief description of the works and state a start date.
  2. A surveyor appointed on your neighbour’s behalf should attempt to make contact with him. If he ignores the surveyor’s letters the surveyor will proceed to agree an award with your surveyor.
  3. If the wall is in need of re-pointing then the surveyors will request that the ivy is removed so that the work can be undertaken. A schedule of the adjacent areas is desirable but not essential if your neighbour refuses access. You can force access to carry out the works.

As it is a party wall that has fallen in to disrepair the surveyors may ask your neighbour to contribute towards the repair costs and their fees. See section 2(2)(b) and 11(5) of the Act.