1. You cannot fire your party wall surveyor.
The only way an appointment of a party wall surveyor can be terminated is if they die, or deem themselves incapable of acting and stand down. So be careful who you appoint.
- Section 18 – Exception in case of Temples etc. and Section 19 – The Crown.
The Party Wall Act does not apply to land owned by The Honourable Society of the Inner temple, Middle Temple, Lincoln’s Inn or Gray’s Inn in inner London. It is however applicable to interests belonging to her Majesty in right of the Crown, a government department or an interest held in trust for Her Majesty.
- Anyone can act as a party wall surveyor.
So long as they are not an owner within the meaning of the Act. It is however advisable to appoint a surveyor in London that is competent and experienced in party wall matters.
- You can break into your neighbour’s property (please read the following sentence before doing so).
This can only be exercised in the case of absolute necessity and as a last resort following necessary notices. You must also be accompanied by a constable or police officer to break open any fences or doors in order to enter the premises.
- What if there’s a dispute within the dispute?
In the event of a dispute, a neighbour may appoint their own surveyor to agree an award with the Building Owner’s surveyor. Between them, these surveyors will appoint a third surveyor to make a determination in the event that they cannot settle a dispute between themselves. Thankfully there is only one third surveyor so the dispute chain ends here.
- The Party Wall Act has origins dating back to the 13th Century
Up to 1996, it was only applicable to building work within inner London but has covered England and Wales since 1997.
- You can unexpectedly receive money from your neighbour, in some cases.
If, for example, there is a shared party wall which forms the flank wall of your rear addition and your neighbour plans on also making use of this wall (for an extension), then they will have to pay you to make use of that section of wall. Even if the wall in question is 100 years old, they would owe you half of the cost of constructing the wall at today’s rates.