Where an adjoining owner dissents to a party wall notice they have two choices; appoint a surveyor of their choice or concur with the building owner in the appointment of a single Agreed Surveyor.
In terms of cost, the appointment of an agreed surveyor will generally be cheaper than having two separate surveyors (I say ‘generally’ as the fees of appointed surveyors vary so much that we can’t say this for certain).
The route to the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor will either be via an adjoining owner concurring in the appointment of a surveyor suggested on a notice or where the building owner appoints a surveyor chosen by the adjoining owner following the service of the notice – the latter can only happen with the agreement of the adjoining owner as all owners are entitled to have their own separate surveyor.
Where an Agreed Surveyor prepares the notices on behalf of the building owner they will generally have provided a fixed fee for the various possible scenarios. A surveyor initially appointed by an adjoining owner may be prepared to agree a fixed fee for acting as the Agreed Surveyor but they are not obliged to do so and even if they do they will be quoting from a position of strength as the alternative for the building owner will be having two surveyors. If a fixed fee is not quoted it will be calculated by reference to an hourly rate but the requirement for it to be reasonable remains.
While the Act does not specifically state that an appointed surveyor must remain impartial it is inferred by the clauses prohibiting owners from acting for themselves and allowing a single surveyor to act for both owners. Despite this, many adjoining owners remain dubious about appointing a surveyor put forward by their neighbour. One way to try and overcome this objection is for the adjoining owner to choose a surveyor who can act for both owners.
In a scenario where the notices have been prepared and served by a surveyor on behalf of the building owner, their letter of authority will generally anticipate their subsequent appointment should the notice be dissented to. That appointment will be technically binding but, in my experience, most surveyors will be happy to stand down to allow an Agreed Surveyor to take over (to comply with the Act they would need to deem themselves incapable of acting).
Where an Agreed Surveyor has been appointed there will not be a Third Surveyor so the only redress the owners have will be to appeal the award (and as that is done in the County Court it is not recommended without first seeking legal advice). However, the Act does offer a route if an Agreed Surveyor neglects to act – either owner may serve a request on him and if he neglects to act for a period of ten days or more an alternative Agreed Surveyor (or two separate surveyors) can be appointed.
If you would like some free advice on a party wall matter affecting your property you’re welcome to contact us on 020 8546 7211 or via email without obligation.