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What you need to know about Party Wall Notices

What you need to know about Party Wall Notices

What you need to know about Party Wall Notices

Are you thinking of carrying out work on your home that will affect a shared wall? The Party Wall Act 1996 was introduced in order to ensure that these sorts of works are carried out in a way that protects the interests of both property owners, and it requires that party that wishes to carry out the work to serve something known as a Party Wall Notice.

In this article, we take a look at these Notices to help you get an understanding of them, whether you are the building owner serving one, or the adjoining owner receiving one.

How to serve a Party Wall Notice

If your project is going to be affected by the Party Wall Act, then it is essential that you as the building owner should serve a Party Wall Notice to any ‘adjoining owner’ that is going to be affected. Adjoining owners could include freeholders, leaseholders, buyers under contract to purchase the leasehold or freehold, and anyone entitled to rent from the property.

To serve a Party Wall Notice you will need to work with a specialist surveyor who can carry out the work for you. Remember that you may need to serve a Party Wall Notice to more than one party, and keep in mind that you may be required to compromise with various people in order to get the plan through.

How to get your neighbours to consent

It is important to note here that it is a legal requirement to gain official, formal consent from any adjoining owners before you are allowed to commence any work that affects a Party Wall. This means that you could expect to see lengthy delays (as well as mounting costs) if there are aspects of the plan, they are not happy with. This is why it is vital to work with an excellent Party Wall surveyor with experience in dealing with these sorts of issues and finding compromises that can suit all parties.

It also should not be underestimated how vital it is to have a good relationship with your neighbours in order to get consent for the work to be carried out. It is smart to pre-empt the Party Wall Notice by knocking on their door and having a friendly chat about your plan and letting them know what they would like to do. This gives them the chance to process what you have told them and shows them that you want to open about what is happening.

Being on friendly terms during the negotiations can help things run smoothly, even if you have disagreements. However, if you are not on friendly terms with the adjoining owners, do not be concerned that this means that your work can never be carried out. Your surveyor will serve a Party Wall Notice and if they respond with consent within 14 days, you can carry out the work.

If they do not respond to the Notice, they are considered to have disputed the works and will need to appoint surveyors (they may consent to use the same surveyor as you) in order to negotiate an agreement. In any case, you should serve your Notice as soon as possible.

How to respond to a Party Wall Notice

It may be the case that you are actually the adjoining owner in the situation and you have been served with a Party Wall Notice. In this case, you need to understand what your options are and what you need to go.

Firstly, it should be noted you have three main choices available. But before you decide which is right for you it is highly recommended that you get in contact with an experienced surveyor to go through the potential problems that could arise from the Notice, and how it might affect your property.

The first option that you could choose is to formally agree to the works and provide written consent within 14 days of being served the Notice. You might feel pressure to do this out of politeness or friendliness with your neighbour, but you should only ever take this option if you are certain that you are happy for the works to proceed and do not foresee any potential problems.

In practice it is relatively rare for people to consent to Party Wall Notices immediately. Again, you should be aware here that if you consent you are allowing the owner of the building to proceed with the works, without them taking any responsibility if the damage is caused to your property.

It is much more common for adjoining owners to dispute the notice and agree to share the same surveyor with the building owner. To dispute the notice, you simply need to allow the 14 days to elapse without providing consent.

The surveyor will then negotiate with all the relevant parties to agree to a Party Wall Award. This will typically take the form of a Schedule of Condition being taken off both properties so that damage can be attributed. A shared surveyor is bound by law to act independently and in the interest of both parties – however, the building owner will be required to cover the costs. The third option is to appoint your own surveyor as a part of the dispute.

What happens after the Notice has been served?

After notice has been served the adjoining owner has 14 days to provide written consent for the work to carry out. Once this period has elapsed the adjoining owner is disputing the Notice. After this, an additional ten days are given in which the adjoining owner decides without to work with their own surveyor or whether they are happy to share the surveyor with the building owner.

If no further instructions are received from the adjoining owner, the building owner’s surveyor will appoint a third-party to deal with the negotiations. 

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