The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
The Act provides a framework for preventing or resolving disputes in relation to party walls, party structures (i.e. floors between flats), boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. Anyone intending to carry out work (anywhere in England and Wales) of the kinds described below must give Adjoining Owners notice of their intentions. The Act applies even to Crown, Government and Local Authority owned property.
What work does the act cover
The Party Wall Act covers three main types of work: -
Alterations to a shared wall;
The construction of new walls which straddle the boundary; and,
Excavation work close to neighbouring properties.
Where work falls within the scope of the Act the Building Owner is required to notify their neighbours in order to obtain their consent; if the neighbours are not prepared to give their consent then the parties are deemed to be ‘in dispute’ under the Act and surveyors must be appointed so that the dispute can be resolved by way of a Party Wall Agreement (technically called an ‘Award’).
Building Owner (the one doing the work)
As a building owner, it is important that your neighbours are notified correctly, in accordance with the act. If you serve notice on your neighbours but it later turns out that the notice was somehow incorrect then your proposed development could be held up or even stopped by means of an injunction. We would therefore always recommend that your party wall notices are prepared and served by a qualified and experienced Chartered Surveyor.
Keep your neighbour in the loop!
When you start planning your proposed works it is always a good idea to speak to your neighbours before serving the formal notice. When neighbours are kept informed they are less likely to immediately appoint their own surveyor and will be more likely to work with you to resolve any issues they have rather than run up surveyor’s fees which, ultimately, the building owner will be responsible for.
As part of our Party Wall service, we will undertake an appraisal of the proposed scheme in order to confirm if the planned works fall within the scope of the act. Where necessary, we will draft up the correct notices and serve them on all neighbours who are affected by the works. It should be noted that all parties with an interest in the property are required to be notified, we will therefore undertake Land Registry searches to ensure that the notices are served on all the parties concerned.
The key benefit of allowing us to serve your notices are as follows: -
The notices are correctly drafted and served in the proper manner on all persons with an interest in the property;
Any queries raised by your neighbours are directed to us to deal with, this helps to prevent conflict and in many cases we can alleviate their concerns before they get blown out of proportion, and;
By keeping the degree of separation in respect of the party wall matter between you and your neighbours, it can help to keep your neighbourly relations intact!
Adjoining Owner (the neighbour)
It’s not unusual for an Adjoining Owner only to become aware of their neighbour’s plans to undertake works which may affect them when a Party Wall Notice lands on their door mat.
An Adjoining Owner essentially has three options: -
Consent to the works going ahead;
Dissent to works;
With the first option above, the adjoining owner will be required to sign an acknowledgement form, which is then forwarded on to building owner. With either of options 2 or 3 a dispute is said to have arisen and each owner must appoint a suitably qualified and experienced party wall surveyor so that an Award can be agreed.
Have you received a Party Wall Notice?
If you have received a Party Wall Notice from your neighbour, get in touch with London and County Surveyors now for completely free professional advice on how to respond. Call us on 0800 197 8820 and ask to speak to one of our highly qualified and experienced surveyors.