What is a party wall?
A party wall is a wall that is on the land of two owners and is a part of a building or may not be part of a building like a masonry garden wall (known as a party fence wall). It can also be on one owner’s land but is “used” by 2 or more owners to separate their respective buildings. The wall does not necessarily need to be on both owner’s land; it can be solely on owner’s land and still be used as a party wall. For example, the neighbour has built up against it.
The act also applies where work is being carried out within the vicinity of a neighbouring property that could affect the structural stability of the neighbouring property.
What does the Act Cover/Types of work?
What do Party Wall Surveyors do?
The ‘Agreed Surveyor’ or two surveyors prepare the legal document between the two owners known as the Award. The surveyor/s will generally create and prepare a schedule of conditions; this details the current state of the neighbouring property and can be referred to if any damage this caused by the subsequent works. Find out more here.
Who pays the Surveyor’s fees?
Generally the building owner/developer pays all costs in relation to drawing up the award, this includes adjoining (neighbour) owner’s surveyor’s fees. Provided the work carried is solely for the building owner’s benefit.
Where the work carried out is due to defect or need or repair, where works are carried out to party wall for the benefit of both neighbours then both parties may need share the costs proportionately. The party wall surveyor/s will be able to determine the split of costs.
Who serves notices and how much notice should be given?
The building owner/developer or their agent/surveyor must give all the relevant and correct notices to all adjoining owners (neighbours) generally with one/two months’ notice prior to works commencing depending on the works being carried out.
What should I do if I receive a notice?
You have 14 days to respond to the notice. Contact us and we can assist you further. You may appoint us as your party wall surveyors and our fees will be payable by the developer whom is carrying out the work unless work is for a shared benefit i.e. repairing a wall that you both share/use where repair is absolutely necessary because of disrepair.
My neighbour is starting/started work without giving me notice?
If you believe that your neighbour is about to start work that is covered in the Party Wall Act and hasn’t given you notice in writing; then you can contact us and we can act on your behalf to ensure correct notices are given to you and a party wall award is drawn up to ensure you are protected against any damage that may be caused by subsequent works.
It is possible that the adjoining owner may apply to the court to have an injunction served in order that you will stop work.
What will happen if you do not serve a notice as required under the Act?
The Party Wall Act does not actually carry any fines or penalties. However, it is possible that the adjoining owner may apply to the court to have an injunction served in order that you will stop work.
What will happen if your adjoining owner does not reply to the notice within 14 days?
Under section 1 of the Part Wall Act, where you wish to build a new wall on the line of junction, it states that you have the right only to build on your own land.
However, if a notice under sections 2 and 6 of the Act has been serves, and there is no reply to the notice after 14 days then a dispute is deemed to have arisen and you and your neighbour must appoint a surveyor. Should your neighbour still fail to respond and after giving a further ten days to reply, you then may appoint a surveyor on his behalf.
What happens if I do not agree with what my appointed surveyor is doing?
When it comes to a surveyor appointment, you cannot rescind but can approach the third surveyor to resolve the matter for you. Although choosing to have just the one surveyor called the ‘agreed surveyor’, then there is no third surveyor to call upon.
What if I do not agree with the contents of the Award?
The building owner and the adjoining owner can actually appeal the award in the County Court within 14 days of being served the award. You should however, speak with your appointed surveyor on the matter before doing so, as the surveyor might likely be able to answer your query.
How much are our fees?
Please contact us to obtain an accurate quote; our fees depend on the extent of the work being carried out and the location. Click here to fill in our contact form.
Does the Party Wall Act override any other legal rights?
Common Law rights are restricted by this Act, so where the Act would take precedence on any matter for which it makes provision. Any other rights, easements or covenants, for example, are not affected.
Can the Act be used to resolve a boundary dispute?
The Party Wall Act is not there to resolve such matters and the surveyors do not have any power to do so. Although, in the event that the boundary is not agreed the Act cannot be applied until the matter is resolved. This would not apply in the case of a section 6 notice, which only deals with an excavation within a certain distance of the adjoining owner’s building or structure, and in this case, the position of the boundary is irrelevant.