The Party Wall etc Act 1996
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 or Party Wall Agreement provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. A building owner 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 is the Party Wall Act?
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a procedure to follow when building work involves:
- Cutting into a party wall,
- Excavations close to neighbouring buildings,
- New walls at boundaries.
The Act permits owners to carry out certain specific works whilst at the same time protecting the interests of anyone who might be affected by that work. It makes sure property owners notify their neighbours in advance of certain proposed works and provides a mechanism for resolving disputes and enabling works to proceed.
The Party Wall etc Act 1996
What is a party wall?
Party walls usually separate buildings belonging to different owners but could include garden walls built astride a boundary – known as party fence walls. There are three types of party wall:
a). a wall that stands on the lands of 2 (or more) owners and forms part of a building – this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners
b). a wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners but does not form part of a building, such as a garden wall but not including timber fences
c). a wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by 2 (or more) owners to separate their buildings
The Act also uses the expression ‘party structure’. This could be a wall or floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings in different ownership, such as in flats.
The workings of the Act are always instigated by the of issuing notices. This is the first stage of the process and, without the issue of valid notices, no further action can be taken under the provision of the Act.
It is essential to include the correct details on a notice as, if they are deemed invalid, then any subsequent actions are also invalid.
Responses To Notices
On receipt of a notice, an adjoining owner has three possible courses of action:
a). To consent to the works going ahead as described. A consenting Adjoining Owner retains all rights under the Act including the right to dissent later in the process.
b). To dissent and appoint a surveyor to check the plans, structural implications and agree the terms of an award (the document that sets out the terms under which work can begin).
c). To dissent and appoint us as an ‘agreed’ surveyor. As point two above but we would act on behalf of both parties.
If the Adjoining Owner does not respond within 14 days then a deemed dispute is said to have occurred and the person carrying out the work must appoint a surveyor to act on the Adjoining Owners behalf.
How Long Can My Neighbours Take To Respond?
If adjoining owners dissent to the works (or if no response is received and a deemed dissent has arisen) then a ‘dispute’ has occurred which must be resolved before work can commence. It is worth reiterating that the Act is one of enablement, it is not there to prevent works from taking place and it offers a route to end disputes at every stage. Where surveyors are involved, they will work together to agree the terms under which work may proceed and will draw up an agreement which sets out the terms under which the work can be carried out (the Award).
Generally, the building owner who is carrying out the work pays for all expenses, this will include the surveyors fees for both Building Owner and Adjoining Owner.
Are you a Building Owner?
If you are planning on doing some work to your property here are some of the things you need to know before you get started.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Our clients are often seeking clarity on the party wall process, cost implications, timeframes…etc. We felt it would be useful to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Are you an Adjoining Owner?
If your neighbours are planning on doing some work here are some of the things you need to know.
Working With Us
Working with us couldn’t be simpler, just send over your drawings and we will advise you on the notices needed, as well as the likely costs and timeframes involved. Use the form below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org