Are you planning to carry out building works near to or on your shared boundary, formally known as a ‘party wall’? If so, then you must inform your neighbour of your plans within two months to a year before works are to start.
How we can help
- First of all, we can help you determine whether the works you wish to undertake fall within the remit of the act.
- If so, then we will draft and serve the appropriate notice on the adjoining owner(s).
- If the adjoining owner consents to the works proposed, we would recommend that a schedule of condition is carried out on the adjoining owners’ property to record its current state just in case a dispute arises at a later date.
- If the adjoining owner dissents to the work, then we will draft appropriate plans, prepare a schedule of condition, and agree the content of works to be undertaken with surveyor acting on behalf of the adjoining owner.
- Once we have agreed the works, the documents will be signed, dated and then served on the appropriate parties. These works must then be adhered to.
For further information please give one of our building surveyors a call.
What is a party wall / party structure?
The Party Wall Etc. Act 1996 describes a wall as being a ‘party wall’ if it straddles the boundary of land of two or more different owners, and also where it stands wholly on one owners land, but it is used by two or more owners to separate their buildings. The term ‘party structure’ also appears within the Act and is used where the dividing structure is approached by separate staircases or entrances, an example of this would be in flats where the floor/ceiling is deemed to be a party structure. Informing your neighbour(s) should be done first in person, to help maintain a healthy relationship, and then through serving notice.
When do I need to inform my neighbour?
Your neighbour should be informed when certain types of works are being planned, such as:
- Building on the boundary of your two properties, e.g. building a new building.
- Works on an existing party wall or structure, e.g. making a wall taller or cutting into it.
- Digging closely to the foundation level of their property.
If you are only planning minor changes then you are not required to inform the adjoining owner, these works include plastering, changing electrical wiring, and drilling when implementing shelving.
How do I inform my neighbour?
Informing your neighbour/adjoining owner should be done through serving notice in writing stating your proposed works. This should be done at least two months before the start date of the works and a notice is only valid for one year.
What happens after notice is served?
The person receiving the notice can choose to:
- Give consent to the works
- Refuse consent to the works, or
- Do nothing.
If after a period of 14 days nothing has been done, or the neighbour has refused consent this is deemed to be in dispute and a surveyor/surveyors should be instructed to produce an ‘Award’ that will iron out creases between both parties and ensure the works are carried out appropriately.
What happens if I do not inform my neighbour?
When planning to carry out works to your property, it would always be prudent to seek the advice of a professional can advise you accordingly. If you undertake works to the party wall that is deemed to be notifiable then the adjoining owner(s) may seek to stop your work through a court injunction or other legal branches. This can result in a more costly exercise than what would have occurred had a notice originally been served and the proper procedure followed. This was seen in a case in 2003 Roadrunner Properties Limited v John Dean where John Dean did not issue notice on the Roadrunner Properties. Road runner properties claimed that damage had occurred as a result of the works and sought damages in the courts. Damages as such can be difficult to prove/disprove and the Judge deemed the burden to be on John Dean to prove the damage wasn’t caused by his actions, acting in favour of Roadrunner properties.