If you are planning works that are governed by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 you will be required to serve a Party Wall notice on your neighbours (adjoining owners). It is critical that the notices are served correctly in order to avoid a breach of your statutory duties which could lead to costly common law remedies.
1 When does the Act apply?
Section 1: Line of Junction notice – Notice is required for constructing an extension up to the boundary (the line of junction) or across the boundary as a new Party Wall.
Section 3: Party Structure notice – Undertaking any work to a Party Wall, being a wall that separates two or more properties will require notice under section 3. Undertaking any works to a Party Fence Wall, typically being a garden wall separating land will also require notice under section 3.
Section 6: three metre or six metre notice – Adjacent excavation within 3m of and to a lower depth than your neighbours’ foundation will require notice under section 6. Some excavations within 6m of your neighbours’ foundations also require notice depending on the depth of the excavation.
In general, if you are flanked by property you will likely need to serve Party Wall notices if you are constructing a basement, an extension, a loft conversion, removing chimney breasts or inserting a beam into the Party Wall.
2 Who requires a Party Wall Notice?
All freeholders and leaseholders of adjoining or adjacent property that are affected by the notifiable works.
3 Can I serve a Party Wall Notice?
Yes, anybody can serve a Party Wall Notice but it must be valid to prevent breaching your statutory duty.
It is well worth investing a nominal sum to instruct a Professional Party Wall surveyor to administer the preparation and serving of a Party Wall Notice to ensure you comply with your statutory duty.
4 What happens if I don’t serve a Party Wall notice?
Adjoining owners can seek an injunction to prevent you from continuing work.
Under section 1 of the Act, where you wish to build a new wall up to the line of junction, you will have the right to construct on your own land.
Under sections 2 and 6 of the Act, if there is no reply to the notice then a dispute is deemed to have arisen and you and your neighbour must appoint a surveyor. If your neighbour still fails to respond within a further 10 days, you may appoint a surveyor on their behalf.
6 What is a Party Wall Award?
The legal document that is ‘served’ on the parties that will determine:
1) the right to execute any work,
2) the time and manner of executing any work,
3) and any other matter arising out of or incidental to the ‘dispute’.
7 When can I start work?
If your neighbours consent to the Notice then immediately!
Party Structure Notices carry a two months’ notice period, a Line of Junction Notice and Adjacent Excavation Notice carry a one month notice period. Works therefore cannot start within these notice periods unless expressly waivered by the Adjoining Owners and once the Party Wall Award is served.
8 How long have I got to start notifiable works?
One year from the date of serving notice where the adjoining owners consent to that notice. When a Party Wall award is served, the surveyors decide and place a time limit on the award and this is usually 12 months from the date of service.
9 Who pays the surveyors’ fee?
Ordinarily the building owner executing the works although it is for the surveyors to determine.
10 What does an adjoining owner do if they receive a notice?
They can consent to the notice and works can start.
Alternatively they can ‘dissent’ and agree in the appointment of one surveyor, the ‘Agreed Surveyor’ or dissent and appoint their own surveyor as the adjoining owner’s surveyor.