One of the benefits to owning property is the ability to change it via rennovation, and when it comes to construction projects, party wall notices are an important part of the process.
A party wall notice is a legal document that is served by one property owner to another when they plan to carry out work on a shared boundary or structure. This notice informs the other property owner of the proposed works and gives them an opportunity to raise any objections or concerns they may have.
It also outlines their rights and responsibilities under the Party Wall Act 1996. Understanding how party wall notices can affect you is essential if you are planning any building works near a shared boundary or structure.
Planning for major changes to your property takes a great deal of time and effort, whether you are completely renovating a home or having a new kitchen installed.
And while it can be easy for us to focus entirely on what is going to be created within the property’s walls, it is important to remember that others will also be affected.
Neighbours with whom you share a wall are protected under the Party Wall Act 1996, and it is essential that you take it into account when you are planning any changes that could affect walls. It is essential, then, that you serve the correct notice and get consent from your neighbours.
What is a Party Wall?
A wall that parties might sound fun, but the reality is rather more mundane!
A party wall is a wall that stands on the land of two owners and separates their buildings. This wall is usually shared by two adjoining buildings, such as two attached homes or a residence and an adjacent garage.
This means you can’t just make changes as you see fit as you don’t own it outright yourself, it would be like someone coming round your house and making changings to your living room without permission.
Who is the owner of a party wall?
The owners are the adjoining owners. Since it’s a wall built by two or more adjacent property owners for shared use and responsibility, both sides must maintain and repair the wall.
An example would be the wall that separates two terraced houses. Both building owners are jointly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
If you are interested in carrying out any work on your property that affects a wall, fence, or boundary line that is shared by one of your neighbours, you must provide warning before any work is carried out.
This warning must be given in a very specific way. A party wall notice is a legal document that one property owner gives to another when they plan to work on a shared structure or boundary.
The kind of work that you are carrying out could be anything from building a new wall, cutting into an existing structure, or making alterations.
To send your notice you’ll need to speak to an experienced party wall surveyor. You cannot write your own party wall notice; it must be written in accordance with the Party Wall Act 1996 and must be served by a qualified surveyor. The surveyor will ensure that the notice is accurate and legally binding.
There are three types of notices: a Line of Junction Notice, a Party Structure Notice, and an Adjacent Excavation Notice.
A Line of Junction Notice is used when two adjoining properties share a boundary line and one property owner wants to make changes to the boundary line.
A Party Structure Notice is used when one property owner wants to make changes to a shared structure such as a wall or fence.
An Adjacent Excavation Notice is used when one property owner wants to carry out excavation work near the boundary line between two properties.
Appointing an experienced party wall surveyor will ensure you send the correct type of notice required for your particular situation.
Who is served with a Party Wall Notice?
You need to serve any relevant adjoining owner with the correct notice type before you can begin any work on your party wall.
It is important to note here that there may well be more than one person who is legally considered the owner of a property. For example, the freeholder, the leaseholder, the buyers, and the landlords should be served with a party wall notice.
What is required for party wall notice
When sending a Party Wall Notice, you must provide the adjoining owner with all the relevant information about the proposed works. This includes details such as:
- The type of work that is to be carried out
- The location of the work
- The start and finish dates for the work
- A description of any materials that will be used
- Any drawings or plans related to the work
- The name and contact details of the surveyor who will be overseeing the work
You’ll be guided through the information required by your surveyor prior to sending the notice.
How can an adjoining owner respond to a Party Wall Notice?
Once an adjoining owner has been served with a Party Wall Notice, they have three potential courses of action.
If you have been served with a notice, then it is a great idea to get in touch with an experienced surveyor to find out how it will affect your home and what it means for your property.
The first option is that the adjoining owner can respond with written consent for the work to be carried out with 14 days of receiving it.
You might assume that this is the chosen option in most cases, however, it is not. This is because giving permission for the owner to go ahead with the work means that they will not be responsible for any damage caused by the work.
The second option is far more common. Here the adjoining owner will dissent to the notice and will agree to share the surveyor with the owner who is serving the notice.
This option helps to ensure that both of the parties are protected. To select this option the individual receiving the notice simply needs to allow the 14 days to elapse.
The third option is for adjoining owners who are not happy with the surveyor that has been appointed by the owner serving the notice.
The adjoining owner dissents and appoints their own surveyor – in this case the owner must cover all reasonable costs.
What happens if an adjoining owner doesn’t respond to the Party Wall Notice?
When the adjoining owner has been served the notice, they have a total of 14 days to respond. If they do not respond, they are considered to have dissented to the works and will then receive a further notice with an extension of 10 days.
This gives them the time to establish whether they will use the same surveyor, or appoint an alternative.
How can I persuade my adjoining owner to consent?
It is essential to gain permission from adjoining owners before any works can proceed. The adjoining owner can delay the process significantly if they are not happy with the works (although they cannot stall indefinitely).
For this reason, you may need to take further steps to ensure that the adjoining owner is happy with the work.
Be sure to listen to the owner of the adjacent property and address their concerns, and be ready to compromise to get the work done.
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