Guide to the Party Wall Act

Introduction This is a brief guide to the party wall act by Bruce Spenser MSc MCIOB intended for owners, students and those aspiring to be Party Wall Surveyors – It is not intended to be relied upon in a legal context and should not be. The Party Wall Act is a reflection of the great legal system we have, its history, the way it evolves,  the rights inherent and the responsibilities that come with those rights – in a civilised country we must not just tolerate the rights of others we must respect those rights and uphold them. New Build on line of Junction when not already built upon: Serve Section 1 notices one month before you wish to build a garden wall or party wall If you receive a Section 1 Notice you may agree to the building of the wall in writing or not and if not the wall cannot be built but the foundations can be placed below your land. If you agree to the build it will be positioned as both owners agree and the person who built the wall (building owner) may charge the affected owner (adjoining owner) a reasonable sum if he uses the wall. The building owner will be responsible for any damages his work causes. The act states when and how a dispute under the act and that it should be settled as per S10 – see below. Recommended that the Building Owner appoints a Chartered construction professional (MCIOB etc) to serve notices and that both owners appoint the surveyor as the agreed surveyor or the Adjoining Owner appoints their own Chartered Construction professional (MCIOB etc) – ensure you carry out due diligence WORKS TO OR AFFECTING PARTY WALLS/PARTY STRUCTURES Subject to serving a valid notice on the adjoining owner two months before the building owner may carry out works which affect a party wall i.e. ·        Underpin, thicken, raise, make good, repair, demolish, rebuild, cut into or away from etc. The building owner will be required to reasonably protect the use of the adjoining owner and will be responsible for any damages his work causes The act allows that two owners may agree works between them and for the adjoining owner to serve counter notices etc. Recommended that the Building Owner appoints a Chartered construction professional (MCIOB etc) to serve notices and that both owners appoint the surveyor as the agreed surveyor or the Adjoining Owner appoints their own Chartered Construction professional (MCIOB etc) – ensure you carry out due diligence. Adjacent excavation and construction If the building owner wishes to carry out excavations which may affect the adjoining owner’s property (as specified within the act) he must serve valid notices. The adjoining owner has rights to protect his property. The building owner is responsible for any damages his works cause. Recommended that the Building Owner appoints a Chartered construction professional (MCIOB etc) to serve notices and that both owners appoint the surveyor as the agreed surveyor or the Adjoining Owner appoints their own Chartered Construction professional (MCIOB etc) – ensure you carry out due diligence. Rights The act, very importantly, give rights to both owners which are subject to responsibilities: Responsibilities – the owner wishing to exercise the rights: ·        must serve the appropriate valid notice in order to exercise the rights afforded by the act – these right suspend common law ·        must not cause unnecessary inconvenience ·        must compensate for damage and loss ·        must protect the adjoining owner’s property ·        requires the permission of the adjoining owner to place reinforced foundations on his land ·        must comply with statutory requirements ·        must comply with the drawings etc. unless agreed otherwise ·        must comply with the requirements of the act Rights of entry. Subject to serving a valid notice a building owner has rights of entry: ·        May remove furniture and fittings etc. ·        May break in if accompanied by a constable ·        Emergency access rights Both surveyors have rights of entry as per the act subject to serving notices Easements The act does not interfere with rights of light, easements or third party rights Resolution of disputes Where a dispute arises following the serving of notices or has deemed to have arisen: ·        The owners shall appoint an agreed surveyor or one surveyor each The two surveyors must then appoint a third surveyor The surveyors will then settle the matter with an award as per Section 10 of the act. The award may determine: ·        the right to execute any work; ·        the time and manner of executing any work; and ·        any other matter arising out of or incidental to the dispute including the costs of making the award ·        Costs The award has to be served on the owners and may be served, with the owner’s permission, electronically The award is conclusive unless successfully challenged in a county court within fourteen days. Expenses Expenses are: ·        the responsibility of the Building Owner ·        if disputed settled by the award. ·        Shared if allowed by the act Offences. The act allows fines for various refusals by owners Exceptions Various Temples and the Crown etc. Interpretations Adjoining Owner – The affected owner as per the act Building Owner – owner desirous of exercising rights Foundation – solid ground or artificially formed support Owner ·        Recipient of rent or profits ·        In possession of land (not mortgagee) ·        Tenant from year to year ·        Tenant at will ·        Purchaser of an interest in land Party Fence Wall – garden wall on line of boundary Party Structure – Party Wall, floor, wall or other partition which separates flats etc. Part Wall a – Wall which separates buildings and stand on land of different owners. Party Wall b – not as a above but still separates buildings Special foundations – reinforced foundations Recommended that the Building Owner appoints a Chartered construction professional (MCIOB etc) to serve notices and that both owners appoint the surveyor as the agreed surveyor or the Adjoining Owner appoints their own Chartered Construction professional (MCIOB etc), carry out due diligence