Party Wall is the wall you share with your neighbours, most commonly in semi-detached or terraced houses. If either neighbour wants to carry pit work on or even near shared walls or boundaries, the Party Wall Act requires them to get the Adjoining Neighbour’s approval in writing, at which point they have to serve what is known as a ‘Party Wall Act Agreement’ or a 'Party Wall Notice'.
Why have I been served a Party Wall Notice?
If you have been served a Party Wall Notice it is because your neighbour wants to undertake work that is covered under the Party Wall etc. Act on their property that could potentially affect your property. This work could involve any of the following:
· Build on or at the Boundary of your property
· Carry out work on an existing Party Wall
· Excavate within a three-meter radius of the neighbouring foundations.
· Build a new wall up to the Line Junction.
· Cut into a Party Wall
· Make a Party Wall taller/shorter/deeper
· Remove a chimney breast or flue from the Party Wall
· Demolish and rebuild a Party Wall or Party Structure
Before works can be carried out on the party wall, your neighbour, the Building Owner, will serve you, the Adjoining Owner, a Party Wall Notice in writing, detailing the planned works that they want to undertake. You should receive this Notice at least 2 months before work is due to start so that you can prepare your response. However, you only have a limited time of 14 days to respond to this notice, before it is deemed in dissent.
What do I do once I have received the Party Wall Notice?
You (often referred to as the “Adjoining Neighbour”) must submit a formal response within 14 days.
Your options are as follows:
Give your consent
If you give your consent to the Party Wall Notice, you are permitting your neighbour to proceed, without any further action. That said, no survey of the current condition of your property is taken. Clearly, this is not in your interest. In order for your neighbour to be held responsible for any damage caused as a consequence of the building works, you need to have written evidence from an appointed Surveyor to factually record and document the condition of the property. The Surveyor is then duty bounded to resolve any disputes that may later arise.
Seek professional advice
If you’ve received a notice from your neighbour you should consult our Party Wall Surveyor in the first instance to advise on what to do next. The works may be simple in nature and you might have no objections to your neighbour proceeding, however; if you consent to the works before seeking advice you may forfeit some of the protection offered by the Act. If you do consent to the works, your neighbour can begin once the notice periods have expired or sooner if you agree.
What if I do not give my consent?
If you choose not to consent to the works (dissent) you must appoint a surveyor. Under the Act you can agree to using the same Surveyor as your neighbour (called an Agreed Surveyor) or more commonly you are entitled to appoint your own surveyor (called an Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor) to act on your behalf and importantly their fees should be met by the person carrying out the works (your neighbour for instance).
If there is no response after the initial 14 days, you are deemed to be in dissent. You will be served with a follow-up notice, valid for 10 days which you must respond to with your decision to either appoint your own Surveyor or to instruct the same Surveyor as your neighbour.
If you do not respond to the follow-up notice, the Building Owner’s surveyor has the power to instruct another surveyor to act on your behalf, in accordance with section 10(4) of the Party Wall Act. Once this has been actioned, a Party Wall Award will be issued and your neighbour can start their construction works.
Have you just been served with a Party Wall Act Notice? Not sure on what to do? Our Party Wall Act Surveyor at Seven One Associates are happy to help and advice with any Party Wall Notice issues and Party Wall Act agreements.