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Understanding Party Walls in England and Wales: Impacts on Property Purchase 

When you are considering purchasing a property in England and Wales, understanding the concept of a “party wall” and its implications can be crucial, as it is something that our Conveyancing Solicitors in Lancaster come across frequently. A party wall is a term used to describe a wall that stands on the land of two or more owners and forms part of a building, such as shared walls between semi-detached and terraced houses. Alternatively, it could be a wall that does not form part of a building, like a garden wall (excluding wooden fences), but one that is shared between two parties. Additionally, “party structures” can include floors or other structures separating buildings or parts of buildings with different owners, like flats. 

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The Party Wall Act 1996 

The Party Wall Act 1996 is a crucial piece of legislation that aims to prevent and resolve disputes regarding party walls, boundary walls, and excavations near neighbouring properties. It requires property owners to notify their neighbours and obtain their consent before carrying out any work directly affecting the party wall. The type of work that needs this agreement includes alterations affecting the structure and strength of the wall, construction of new walls at or astride the boundary line, and excavation near neighbouring buildings. 

Impact on Property Purchases 

When purchasing a property, it is essential to identify whether it involves a party wall, as this could impact future building or renovation plans. If the property includes a party wall, any planned work on or near it will require a party wall agreement with the neighbours. This requirement can influence the feasibility, cost, and timeline of potential renovations or extensions you may be considering. 
Failure to comply with the Party Wall Act can lead to legal disputes, delays in your project, and could incur additional costs. Hence, understanding the presence and implications of party walls can affect your decision-making process regarding the property purchase. 

How Conveyancing Solicitors Can Help 

A conveyancing solicitor can assist in the following ways: 

Identifying Party Walls: 

They can help identify if the property has a party wall and advise on the legal obligations under the Party Wall Act. 

Legal Advice and Notices: 

They can provide legal advice on the necessity of a party wall agreement for any planned work and assist in drafting and serving the required Party Wall Notice to neighbours. 

Dispute Resolution: 

If there’s a dispute or if neighbours dissent to the notice, solicitors can help with any dispute resolution process, which may involve appointing a party wall surveyor to prepare a Party Wall Award. 

Transaction Advice: 

They can advise on how party wall matters might affect the property transaction, potential costs, and how to address these issues during the purchase process. 
Understanding and addressing party wall issues early can help prevent disputes and ensure a smoother property transaction and ownership experience. If you are planning to buy a property, discuss any party wall matters with your conveyancing solicitor to understand your rights and obligations. To speak with our Conveyancing Solicitors in Lancaster, contact 01524 581 306 or email Our Conveyancing Solicitors are CQS-accredited and SRA-regulated, and can assist with your property purchase all at a fixed-fee cost. 

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