Party Wall Matters
What is a Party Wall?
A party wall or party fence wall is a wall which is jointly owned by neighbours. Other party structures covered by the Act can include floor/ ceiling structures between flats. A timber fence does not count as a party structure.
What is the Party Wall etc. Act 1996?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. Building Owners proposing to start work covered by the Act must give Adjoining Owners notice of their intentions in the way set down in the Act.
What constitutes work covered by the Act?
• A Party Structure Notice (Section 3) is required when – Demolishing/rebuilding, cutting into, away from, raising, lowering, thickening or underpinning a party structure.
• A Notice of Adjacent Excavation (Section 6) is required when - Excavating within 3 metres of and to a lower level than the foundations of an adjoining property, or within 6 metres and to a level low enough that if a 45 degree line was taken from the bottom of the neighbouring foundations towards the excavation, it intersects the excavation at some point.
• A Line of Junction Notice (Section 1) is required when - Constructing a new structure astride or on the line of junction (boundary between lands which is yet to have been built on or only built on to the extent of a wall belonging to one owner only).
If any of the above works are proposed, the building owner must serve a notice on all of the notifiable adjoining owners.
How can I respond to a notice?
Once you have received a notice, there are three ways in which you can respond:
• Consent – notifiable works may begin, no further action is required.
• Dissent and appoint an Agreed surveyor – One surveyor acts impartially on behalf of both parties and a party wall award is served to deal with the dispute under the Act and allow the notifiable works to commence.
• Dissent and appoint your own surveyor – an independent surveyor acts on behalf of the adjoining owner and liaises with the building owner’s surveyor in order to agree a party wall award, resolving the dispute and allowing notifiable works to take place.
Once a notice is served, the adjoining owner/s will have 14 days to provide a response, if no response is received in this time, they are deemed to have dissented and will then receive a further letter requiring them to appoint a surveyor within 10 days. If there is still no response once the 10 day letter expires, the building owner can appoint a surveyor to act on behalf of the adjoining owner.
Please note that the response to a notice must be given in writing.
What is a Party Wall Award?
A party wall award is a legally binding document which sets out the rights of both parties involved in the dispute pertinent to the notifiable works as proposed by the building owner and described in the notices. There will be a list of clauses contained within the award specifically tailored to address the intended works and protect the rights of both the building owner and adjoining owner in accordance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Typically, a party wall award will be accompanied by a schedule of condition which records the condition of the adjoining property prior to the commencement of building works. This allows the surveyors to ascertain whether any damage has been caused.
In all ordinary circumstances, surveyors’ fees associated with a party wall matter are paid by the building owner (the owner desirous of carrying out the works).
If you are proposing to carry out building works you believe may be notifiable under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 or have received a notice from a neighbour, please contact David Moon
or Tony Guerguis
to discuss your requirements.