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The Party Wall etc Act 1996

We can also advise you in respect of neighbourly matters including scaffolding and crane oversail, prepare licences and schedules of condition.

Building Owner

How do I inform my neighbour of my proposed works?

If you are carrying out works to a party wall or are excavating in close proximity to next door then you must inform your neighbour (Adjoining Owner) of your intentions before carrying out the work. The best way to start the process is to engage the services of a qualified surveyor to prepare and serve the necessary notices in advance of the works commencing.

Notices for works to a Party Wall must be served two months before they commence or one month if you are excavating foundations within a certain distance of your neighbour’s building or structure.

After establishing the works which are notifiable under the Act, we will identify the correct names of your neighbour and serve the appropriate notices. On receipt of the notice, your neighbour can either consent to the works or dissent and appoint a surveyor. At this stage you should be aware that you will be responsible for your neighbour’s surveyor’s fees except in rare instances.

Once your neighbour’s surveyor is appointed we will then prepare a schedule of condition of the adjoining premises and draft the party wall Award. Depending on the scale of the works it normally takes between 3 – 4 weeks, following service of notices, to agree the party wall Award which contains the design drawings, schedule of condition and any relevant supporting documentation. The Award is then prepared in duplicate and signed by the appointed surveyors before it is served on both parties. It should be noted that even if the award is agreed, the works cannot commence until the statutory periods have run. To overcome this, the Adjoining Owner can agree to waive the period in writing.

In short, a Party Wall Award is a legally binding document which settles the difference between the parties and contains clauses which protects both the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner. For example, the Award would normally stipulate hours of noisy works on a party wall or provide directions for resolving any damage which occurs as a result of the works. Once received, the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner have 14 days to appeal the Award in the County Court should they feel it has been made improperly or incorrectly.

Finally, once the works are complete, the surveyors check off the schedule of condition to ascertain if any damage has been occasioned to the neighbours’ property. If damage has been caused then the surveyors agree the remedial works required. Once they are completed the Award can be discharged.

Adjoining Owner

On receipt of a notice from your neighbour, which is normally served by a surveyor acting for your neighbour (Building Owner), you have the opportunity to either consent or dissent. If you dissent on the basis that you require your interest to be considered and protected then you should appoint a surveyor. Please note that your appointed surveyor is administering the Act impartially and not representing you as a client. It is also important to note that in almost every situation your surveyor’s fees will be paid for by your neighbour instigating the work, except in very rare instances.

The two surveyors then put in place a “Party Wall Award” which protects you against damage, contains the drawings illustrating the works and a schedule of condition of your property.

Schedules of Condition

Adjoining Owners have little protection from urban developments that are constructed in close proximity to neighbouring buildings or structures. In the event of damage or disturbance, it is likely that an Adjoining Owner will have no record of the condition of their property before the works started making it difficult to substantiate a claim with next door.

To overcome this, Marc Newton Associates (London) Ltd can produce a Schedule of Condition that fully details the condition of the property and records the condition prior to works commencing. The importance of a Schedule of Condition is that it protects both parties and can be used to accurately determine the reinstatement, redecoration and repair of the property.

Access Licences

There are instances where the Party Wall etc Act 1996 is unable to grant access on or over neighbouring properties for construction purposes. Although this statute may be limited, urban development often means building close to or directly adjacent to boundaries requiring access to carry out the work.

At Marc Newton Associates (London) Ltd, we are able to put in place agreements to secure the necessary access requirements to oversail with cranes and to erect scaffoldings, working platforms and hoardings that will, unless previously agreed, require the express consent of the Adjoining Owner.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 is often overlooked by parties carrying out development work. For many, this piece of legislation is only learned of when they are just about to start work on site, or for many, when they have already begun. This can cause problems for both the person(s) undertaking the building works (known as the Building Owner) and also for the neighbour(s) to the person undertaking the work (known as the Adjoining Owner).

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DOWNLOAD OUR GUIDE TO THE PARTY WALL ACT

The Party wall etc Act 1996 came into force in 1997 throughout England and Wales to provide a framework for resolving disputes between neighbours in respect of Party Walls, Party Fence Walls and Adjacent Excavations. The Act also deals with works to a Party Structure which could be the floor or ceiling separating your neighbour should you live in a flat. Although the Act is fairly complex, the procedure to resolve a dispute between your neighbours is fairly straight forward and normally involves at least one Party Wall Surveyor to administer the procedure. The Act uses various terms and expressions to define a shared wall (Party Wall, Party Fence Wall and Party Structure) and also refers to excavation works within 3 and 6 metre zones.  Such definitions and illustrations are shown in our Party Wall Guide which also explains how to serve or respond to a notice.

 On receipt of a notice from your neighbour, which is normally served by a surveyor acting for your neighbour (Building Owner), you have the opportunity to either consent or dissent. If you dissent on the basis that you require your interest to be considered and protected then you should appoint a surveyor. Please note that your appointed surveyor is administering the Act impartially and not representing you as a client. “It is also important to note that in almost every situation your surveyor’s fees will be paid for by your neighbour instigating the work, except in very rare instances”. The two surveyors then put in place a “Party Wall Award” which protects your interest and contains the design drawings and a schedule of condition of your property.