The Party Wall Act 1996 relates to any work which a property owner may want to carry out where an adjoining wall with a neighbour’s property might be affected. It also provides the framework to facilitate a resolution to any dispute that may arise with any neighbours over any proposed work.
Maintenance and general repair of a Party Wall
Carrying out essential repairs to a wall shared between two (or more) neighbours can get complicated. A common issue is the repair and maintenance of a shared garden wall or Party Fence Wall. The first step is to identify if the said wall is a Party Fence Wall/shared wall, at times this can be quite easily identified along with the Boundary Lines and the Party Wall. However, in other cases this isn’t as easy. You can start by checking the property deeds if you’re lucky there is often a plan drawn to scale which shows the Boundaries. The plans can be obtained direct from the Land Registry (by obtaining a copy of your title deeds) or you can ask your solicitor/conveyancer.
With the plan in hand, you can see if there are “T”s on any of the boundaries. A “T” shown on the inside of the Boundary Line indicates the ownership and responsibility to maintain it. If the “T” is matched by another “T” on the Boundary so it looks like a “H”, this shows the Boundary to be a Party Wall/Fence. This means joint responsibility for the maintenance of the wall/fence.
Repairing a damaged Party Wall
If a Party Wall has been damaged due to one party building on it or altering it then it is dealt with differently. The Party Wall Act 1996 dictates that before any work is carried out on a Party Wall, a Party Structure Notice (Party Wall Notice) must be served. This notice states who is responsible and to what extent if any damage occurs to a Party Wall/Structure during building work.
In other cases where repair is required to the Party Wall for example due to failing foundations then the costs are defrayed to both owners to the proportion of which they use the party wall. Party Wall Notices are required to do this and almost certainly a Surveyor will be required to keep an account of the costs and its proportionated accordingly.
When building a rear extension, you will have to use a Party Wall Agreement for rear extension notice. Similarly, for a loft conversion, you will need to use a Party Wall Agreement for loft conversion.
When a Party Wall is damaged by one property owner building on it, it is common for the cost of repair to sit with them. The Party Wall Notice will state this. If a dispute arises, whether it be over the cause of the damage or the cost, an independent surveyor may need to get involved.
Do you need to carry out repairs to a Party Wall or Structure? Maybe you want to repair/replace the garden party fence wall but are not sure whose responsibility it is? Contact us to find out more and get assistance with your project.