The Party Wall Act 1996
Posted on 17th February 2019 at 09:32
Whilst the act cannot deal with the neighbour’s children perfecting their drum solo at 1am it can prevent and resolve disputes involving party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
What is a Party Wall?
Unfortunately, we’re not living in a world where our houses come alive at night and have a silent disco whilst we sleep (or at least I don’t think my house does!) nor is a party wall some kind of midnight raver. Rather there are two recognised types of (altogether more boring) definitions of Party Walls.
Party Wall type A – the wall stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two or more different owners. Such a wall maybe part of one building or separating two buildings. Within this category we also see “Party Wall Fences” this is a where that stands astride the boundary line between the land of different owners for example a garden wall. It is important to note that a wooden fence would not be a party fence wall.
Party Wall type B – the wall stands wholly on one person’s land but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings. For example, a person may build a wall and another person has come along and butted their building up against it without constructing their own wall. Only the part of the wall that separates the two pieces of land are the parts having the party…the other sections of either side or above are not invited to the party.
What are your rights if you want to work on an existing party wall?
MG Legal, Solicitors in Preston note that the most commonly used rights are:
- To cut into a wall to take the bearing for a beam
- To insert a damp proof course through the wall
- To raise the height or increase the thickness of a party wall
- To demolish and rebuild a wall
- To underpin a wall
If you are carrying out minor works such as re-plastering, drilling into a party wall to fix a plug or replacing electrical wiring then you do not need to serve notice.
Duties under the Act
If you intend to carry out any works you must inform the adjoining owners – you shouldn’t even make changes to the walls on your side without letting the other owners know. Interestingly; the act does not contain any enforcement provisions if you were not to serve notice on the owners of adjoining land however if notice is not served then the adjoining owners may see to make you stop work by way of a court injunction.
An adjoining owner cannot stop someone from carrying out works that fall under the Act but they can influence how and when the work is carried out. Before you go planning your big party…wall remember that the Act does state that the Building Owner must not cause inconvenience over and above that which will inevitably occur when such works are carried out.
Obviously, it is always best to discuss with your adjoining owners what works you plan to undertake and explain that you will be servicing Notice on them to carry out certain works.
The Notice should include the following: -
- Your own name and address
- The address of the property where the works are taking place
- A full description of what you intend to do
- When you propose to carry out the works
You must serve the Notice at least two months before you intend to start any works.
If you receive a Notice you can do one of three things:-
1. Ignore in (if you don’t mind what works are taking place that is)
2. Give your consent – if writing
3. Dissent- this must be done in writing
If owners cannot agree on what should be done at a property, then objections should be put in writing and an agreed surveyor should have the final say. Any agreements should always be put in writing.
For more information on Party Walls see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/party-wall-etc-act-1996-guidance or speak to MG Legal Property Solicitors in Preston either via 01995 602 129 or by email@example.com.
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