What is a Party Wall?
A Party Wall is a shared wall between separating properties owned by different owners.
Sometime fences and walls on boundaries can be Party Walls too.
What is a Party Structure Notice?
When one of the owners is planning to carry out building works that will affect a shared Party Wall, or where the work is to be carried out close to a Party Wall the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 requires the owner doing the work to tell their neighbour, or neighbours about it.
This is done by a Party Structure Notice which has be served at least 2 months before any work to the wall is due to commence (or 1 month before if the works are adjacent to a Party Wall). The Notice has to describe the work that is proposed and set out the rights the neighbour has under the terms of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996.
Everybody with an ‘interest’ in the wall has to be served with a Notice, so it includes long leaseholders, and most commercial property tenants.
There are potentially serious consequences if the correct procedures are not followed, which can prove expensive and time consuming for the owner doing the work (Building Owner). In some cases the neighbour (Adjoining Owner) could potentially seek an injunction to stop the building works in court, leading to significant delays in the work and legal costs.
What do I do If I Receive a Party Structure Notice?
An Adjoining Owner who receives a Notice can respond in one of three ways:
- They can either agree to the works proceeding;
- They can Appoint an Agreed Surveyor who would act impartially and regulate matters on behalf of both Owners (this can be the Building Owner’s Surveyor) or;
- They can appoint a different Surveyor (Adjoining Owners Surveyor) to act on behalf on their property.
This third option is probably the most commonly adopted. The law is written in a way that describes this option as a ‘dispute’ having arisen. Of course, often there is often no serious dispute, and the neighbours are content with the work proposed, but want the assurance of an independent surveyor to keep an eye on things for them and protect their interests.
In these circumstances the ‘dispute’ is settled by way of issuing a Party Wall Award or Agreement, which is a legal document setting out the work to be done, the existing condition of the properties, and setting out certain terms and conditions under which the building work is to be done. It is normally negotiated between the Surveyors representing the Owners.
What about Fees?
If you have been served with a Party Wall Notice, the reasonable fees of a surveyor appointed by you are normally paid in most circumstances, by the Building Owner who is undertaking the work. We are extremely experienced in Party Wall matters and will be happy to discuss any Notice you may have received.
If you are intending to undertake building work that may affect a Party Wall or that may involve excavation work adjacent to a Party Wall or Boundary Wall we would be delighted to discuss your proposals briefly with you and how the Party Wall Act may affect you.
We can clearly set out for you what may be required of you, in your particular circumstances and guide you, as to how the Party Wall etc Act 1996 applies to your work.
We make no charge for this initial service.
We can advise you of the fees we envisage being required to deal with the Party Wall matters your work requires so that you comply with the requirements of the Act.