The party wall act explained.
Topics covered in this article
What is the party wall act?
If you are looking to do building work on your property and you share a wall with your neighbour then the party wall act is a crucial part of the process.
The Party Wall act is legislation that is there to anticipate any disagreements that may occur between you and your neighbours and is structured for management of such issues as they may arise.
What works does the party wall act cover?
The party wall act covers and requires notice for;
- Works to an existing party wall structure
- Building on the boundary line
- Excavations within 3m or 6m of a structure on the adjoining owner’s property
Want to know more about the party wall act then click here to get your copy of A Friendly Guide to the Party Wall etc Act 1996. The book will guide you through all you need to know about the Party Wall Act in a way that is simple and concise.
The Party Wall Surveyor and their role?
Party Wall Surveyors are highly qualified individuals who will prepare an “award”, also known as a “party wall award”. In this document the surveyor sets out the work and determines when that work is to be carried out, for example, not at weekends if the buildings are domestic properties.
The party wall surveyor will also record the condition of the adjoining owner’s property before the work begins, so that any damage can be properly attributed and made good.
This grants the surveyors access to inspect the works while they’re going on to see that they are in accordance with the award.
It is a good idea to keep a copy of the party wall award with your property deeds.
What is the party wall award?
A Party Wall Award is the result of an action by either an agreed surveyor or two appointed surveyors. The Award is a legally binding document that allows the building owner to undertake works at, or close to, the party wall lawfully whilst safeguarding the rights of the adjoining owner. The party wall award governs how and when the party wall works are to be undertaken, states the precise nature of the works in plain English, and sets in place procedures and obligations to protect both parties from potential damage or claims.
As a part of the party wall award, your surveyors will generally examine and comment upon the drawings for the works. In most cases the surveyors will also attach a ‘schedule of condition’, which is a written report of his survey of the relevant parts of the adjoining owner’s building. The schedule of condition allows the surveyors to return to the adjoining property after completion of the works to verify and record any damage. In the case of damages to an adjoining property, caused by the execution of works, these will also be dealt with by an addendum award (further award) which will award costs and liabilities upon the relevant parties.
Although the party wall surveyor will try to keep the award as simple as possible, it is a formal legal document. If you have difficulty understanding it, one of our specialist party wall advisors will be happy to go through the final party wall award with you to explain what it means. Contact us today. Or click here to get your comprehensive guide to the party wall act.
How much will a party wall award cost?
The cost of a party wall award will vary depending upon the type of work being proposed and the nature of the properties. Most party wall surveyors charge on an hourly basis rather than giving a flat rate. If you intend to carry out any of the building works mentioned, you must inform all adjoining owners. You must not even cut into your own half of the wall without telling the next door neighbour of your intentions.
What are my duties under the party wall act?
There is a legal requirement upon all building owners and Developers wanting to carry out an extension to their property to serve the appropriate Party Wall notices. However, the Act contains no enforcement procedures for failure to serve a notice. If you start work without having first given notice in the proper way, adjoining owners may seek to stop your work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress.
A neighbour cannot stop someone from exercising the rights given to them by the Act, but he can influence how and when the work is done. The Party Wall Act also states that a building owner must not cause unnecessary inconvenience. The building owner must provide compensation for any damage and must provide temporary protection for buildings and property where necessary
Who counts as an adjoining owner?
Essentially, an adjoining owner is anyone with an interest greater than a tenancy from year to year in the adjoining property. If the next door property is occupied by a long term tenant or leaseholder it will be necessary to notify the landlord as well. If works fall under the Party wall Act, it is your duty to notify all owners of the adjoining property/properties.
How do I inform the adjoining owner or owners?
It is obviously best to discuss your planned work fully with your neighbours before you, or your professional adviser, give notice in writing about what you plan to do.
You should appoint a professional adviser/surveyor to give the Party Wall Notice on your behalf. Whilst there is no official form for giving notice under the Party Wall Act, your notice must include certain details for it to be valid:
Your own name and address, the building’s address (if different) and a clear statement that your notice is a notice under the provisions of the Party Wall Act (you should refer to the section(s) concerned):
- Full details of what you propose to do (including plans where appropriate) and when you propose to start.
- You may deliver the party wall notice in person or send it by post. Where the neighbouring property is empty or the owner is not known
- You may address the notice to “the owner” of the premises and fix it to a conspicuous part of the premises. You do not need to tell the local authority about your notice.
What happens after I serve a Party Wall Notice?
People who receives a Party Wall notice about intended work may give his consent in writing, or give a counter-notice setting out what additional or modified work he would like to be carried out. A person who receives a notice about intended work, and intends to serve a counter-notice, should let his neighbour know within 14 days.
If, after a period of 14 days from the service of your party wall notice, the person receiving the notice has done nothing, a dispute is deemed to have arisen and you must appoint a Party Wall Surveyor. If you receive a counter-notice you must respond to it within 14 days. If you do not, a dispute is deemed to have arisen; again you must appoint a surveyor.
If the adjoining owners fail to engage or respond to the notices after the expiry of the 14 days, a 10 day letter is then sent to the adjoining neighbours by your surveyor informing them that they are in dissent to the notices and they are required either to consent or appoint a surveyor. Should they further fail to engage or respond a surveyor will be appointed for them. All appointments and responses must be made in writing, verbal consent is not appropriate.
As mentioned before, your party wall notice should not come as a surprise. If you have already ironed out possible snags with your neighbours, this should mean that they will readily appoint an agreed surveyor in response to your notice.
You can find examples of Part Wall notices and responses in our book “A Friendly Guide to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996”.
Is my Party Wall Notice Invalid?
Whether the notice is valid or not, you must respond in writing within 14 day period from the date on the notice. You have a number of choices, if you have no concerns about the works or its effects upon your property, then you should consent to the notice. As previously mentioned, this must be done in writing, either through a provided response form or a letter addressed to the building owners.
If you have concerns with regards to the works and its effects upon your property, this would be a dissent to the notice and a dispute will be deemed to have arisen. If this is the case, a party wall surveyor would need to be appointed. You can appoint a single surveyor who will act on behalf of both parties. Or you can appoint your own surveyor.
To appoint one of our Party Wall specialists Contact Us today and we will be happy to assist you.