Party Wall Notices
The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 requires that notice be given to neighbouring owners where it is considered likely that the proposals of a neighbour will be likely to affect another neighbouring structure. It is a legal duty for a Building Owner to serve the appropriate notices in the correct manner. Failure to do so can result in an injunction being sought to stop the works.
Notices can be served in person or via post but in order to be valid all notices must contain the following information:-
- Name and address of the building owner
- Nature and particulars of the proposed work
- Date on which the work will begin
NB: If the details of the neighbouring owner(s) are not known the notice can be served upon ‘The Owner’ however in order for this to be valid any such notice must be delivered in person or attached to premises of the building.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
A Party Wall Notice is a legal document that is prepared by a building owner or his/her representatives regarding works that he/she intends to carry out in close vicinity to a neighbouring structure or to the boundary line. The Notice is intended to inform neighbouring owners (which can include longterm leaseholser etc) of the implications of their proposals on the neighbours. There are 3 types of notices, Line of Junction, Party Structure and Notice of Adjacent Excavation.
In many situations more than one type of notice is required and it is essential that you ensure all notices required under the Act are given.
When does a Party Wall Notice need to be served?
Party Wall Notices should be served at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure that there is sufficient time for the notice to run and for negotiations, if a dispute arises, to be undertaken. However notices are only valid for 12 months so caution should be given so as not to serve the notice too early either as they may then expire before works commence. This is not usually an issue with smaller domestic scenarios but should be factored into larger, longer term projects.
Party Structure Notices are required to be served 2 calendar months prior to the commencement of works and Line of Junction and Notice of Adjacent Excavation 1 calendar month prior to the commencement of works.
Types of Party Wall Notice
What Type of Notice is required?
In order to establish what type of notice is required it is essential to understand the implications of the intended works. There are three types of notices and it is often that more than one notice maybe required. The types of notice are detailed below with examples of when to use each type of notice:-
Line of Junction
If you are intending to build to the line of junction either solely on your own land or astride the boundary line a line of junction notice should be served where the line of junction is not currently built upon. The most common use of this notice is where a rear extension spanning the width of a property is proposed meaning that the face of the external walls will either represent the boundary line of be astride the boundary line.
If you are intending to cut into, demolish, expose or repair a party structure of party fence wall you will need to serve a party structure notice. The most common scenarios where such notice is required is where loft conversions are undertaken and it is necessary to insert beams into the party wall; cutting into the party wall to provide weathering at the abutment between two properties and enclosing upon a party fence wall (boundary wall built astride the boundary) changing the nature of a wall to a party wall. There are obviously many other situations where party structure notices are required, these scenarios simply offer you an idea of when a party structure notice is require and is not intended to be exhausted.
If you are intending to excavate within 3 or 6 meters of a neighbouring structure you maybe required to serve Notices of Adjacent Excavation. The rules of when to serve these notices are detailed below:-
If you are excavating within 3 meters of a neighbouring structure and it is anticipated that your foundations will be to a lower level than the existing foundations a 3 meter notice should be served. Generally speaking, if you cannot confirm the depth of the neighbours foundations caution should be exercised and notice given. Notice is required for trail holes as well as substructure works.
If you are excavating within 6 metres of a neighbouring structure, if any part of that excavation intersects with a plane drawn downwards at an angle of 45 degrees from the bottom of their foundations, taken at a line level with the face of their external wall (this will normally mean that you are using piled foundations) then a 6 meter notice should be given.
After Notice has been served
What Happens after Notices has been served?
The Adjoining Owner(s) should be given the opportunity to reply to the notice served. They will either consent or dissent from the notice served. If they consent all paperwork should be retained for future reference but no further action under the Act is required. It is however recommended that a Schedule of Condition is offered to the Adjoining Owner as this will ensure that the condition of the areas in close vicinity to the works is recorded prior to the commencement of works. This will ensure that no historic damage can be brought into question on completion of the works but equally that any damage genuinely incurred by the works can be identified.
If the neighbour dissents from the notice a surveyor or surveyors must be appointed. In normal circumstances all fees incurred by any such appointments will be payable by the building owner, however this must be agreed and awarded.
What Happens if the Neighbours Don’t Respond?
If 14 days after service of a notice no reply has been received a dispute will be considered to have occurred, except where notice was given to build to the line of junction solely on the land of the building owner.
If a dispute arises due to a lack of response to a notice served the adjoining owner(s) must be given 10 days in which to agree to the appointment of the building owners surveyor or confirmation of who they intend to appoint. A failure to respond to this further notice will result in the building owners surveyor making an appointment on behalf of the adjoining owner so as matters can proceed.
What Happens Now That a Dispute Has Arisen?
If a dispute has arisen and a surveyor or surveyors have been appointed an award (often referred to as an agreement) will be drawn up. This will determine the right to carry out works stipulated within the notice(s) given; the time and manner in which works are to be undertaken and any other matter incidental to the dispute including access and fees.