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Q: What is the procedure for access to a neighbouring property to carry out work?
A: Under the Act, an Adjoining Owner and occupier must be given 14 day’s notice of the intention to carry out Party Wall work. Access must be also allowed to any surveyor appointed as part of the dispute resolution procedure.
Q: What do I do if I receive a Party Wall Act notice from my neighbour?
A: You should reply in writing within 14 days of receiving the Notice, either consenting or dissenting with the proposed works proceeding without a Party Wall Award in place. If you do not respond to a notice about an intended new wall built up to (but not astride) the line of junction, the work can commence after the one month notice period.
If you do not respond, in writing, within 14 days to a notice about an intended new wall built astride the line of junction (a party wall), the Building Owner must build the wall entirely on his own land. The work can commence after the one month notice period.
If you receive a notice about work to an existing party structure, or a notice about excavations within 3 or 6 metres of your foundations, and you have not responded, in writing, within a period of 14 days from receipt of the notice, a dispute is deemed to have arisen.
Q: I have planning permission and building regulations approval – do I still have to go through the procedures of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996?
A: The Act is separate from planning or building regulations control. Even if a building owner has planning permission and/or building regulations approval, it is a requirement that the proper procedures are carried out with the Adjoining Owners under the Act.
Q: If I consent to a Notice, can I still appoint a surveyor later if a dispute subsequently arises?
A: Yes, but only if the disputed matter is connected with work that is the subject of the Notice.
Q: Why should I appoint a surveyor?
A: Prior to the start of any work it is always strongly advised to appoint a surveyor who will prepare a ‘Schedule of Condition’ covering the ‘at risk’ parts of the adjoining owner’s property. The document provides proof of the property’s condition prior to work if any damage occurs, which can be properly restored. It also protects both parties from unfair or misleading claims made by an adjoining building owner. A Surveyor will also prepare a Party Wall Award to regulate the time and manner of works covered by the Party Wall Act to reduce the risk of damage.
Q: Do I have to inform my neighbour if I am just putting up bookshelves, fixing electrical socket outlets or wall units, or removing and renewing plaster to the party wall?
A: This type of work would be considered to be minor and would not need to be notified under the Act. The all-important consideration is whether your planned work might have any possible consequences for the
structural strength and support functions of the party wall as a whole, or cause damage to the Adjoining Owner’s side of the wall.
Q: Can I prevent a new building from blocking out my light?
A: The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 does not affect ‘easements’ – the legal right to receive light through defined openings in buildings – or access to air or support to land. The Act relates only to the processes involved in building on or close to the Adjoining Owner’s building, and to prevent and to make good any damage caused.
Q: What action can I take if I don’t like the terms of the Party Wall Award?
A: The Building Owner or the Adjoining Owner may appeal against the terms of the Award at the County Court within 14 days (by an ‘Agreed’ surveyor, two surveyors or the third surveyor). The appeal should concern a ‘point of law’ not a ‘point of fact’. This means your complaint against the Award should NOT be based on a proposed action you simply do not like or which would prevent work being carried out on technical grounds. It is strongly recommended to seek legal advice first.
Q: Who pays the surveyor’s fees?
A: Usually the Building Owner will pay all costs associated with drawing up the Award including, the Adjoining Owner’s surveyor’s fees if the works are solely for the Building Owner’s benefit. Where work is necessary due to defect or need of repair the adjoining owner may have to pay costs. In this circumstance, the costs are split according to the use each owner has of the structure or wall, and responsibility for the defect or need of repair if more than one owner makes use of the structure or wall.
Q: Is the Surveyor’s Award final?
A: The Award is final and binding unless it is cancelled or modified by a County Court on appeal. Each owner has 14 days from when the Award was served to lodge their complaint. An appeal should not be undertaken lightly, as an unsuccessful complainant may incur an award of costs against them. Taking legal advice before proceeding with an appeal is strongly advised.
The information provided is for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice to any person.