What is the Party Wall Act?
The Act places a legal duty upon any building owner proposing works under the Act to serve a party wall notice to his/her adjoining owners. This party wall notice must be served at least one month (sometimes two months) prior to the date the work is due to start. It is important to note that failure to serve a valid party wall notice in time, where one is required, can cause a significant delay to your works starting and could result in legal proceedings being brought against you. In these circumstances you may also be liable for additional legal fees and court costs.
You should remember that gaining planning permission or complying with the building regulations does not remove the need to comply with the Act. Usually the building owner proposing the works will pay all party wall costs associated with drawing up of the “party wall award” if the works are solely for his/her benefit.
When you receive a party wall notice
Once you receive a notice from the building owner you only have fourteen days to respond. If you have already selected a surveyor to act for you then you should pass the notice to your party wall surveyor so that he/she can check the notice for compliance with the Party Wall Act. Your party wall surveyor may then advise you of the most suitable response and write to the building owner on your behalf. If you have not appointed a party wall surveyor then you have four options available.
1. Request that a surveyor is appointed to prepare a Party Wall Award. The surveyor will prepare a report of the adjoining owner’s property before work begins.
2. Do not do anything. If you do not respond within 14 days, the procedure of a Party Wall Award will be followed.
3. If you are generally happy with proposed work you can enter into a Party Wall Agreement with your neighbour.
4. Consent to the notice. This will allow the building owner to complete works with no further action required from either party.
When a difference arises
Where a difference is deemed to have arisen both parties may agree to settle any outstanding matters between them. In this case the building owner will be liable for all reasonable costs incurred up to that date. As the adjoining owner you are unlikely to directly benefit from your neighbour’s works. You may experience disruption to your daily life and your home may suffer from damage as a result of works. When you receive notice under the Act, you should carefully consider how best to safeguard your home.
If you would like RWP Consultancy to assist you in the issue or response to a party wall notice please contact us.