Introduction to The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 declares a mandatory legal procedure for preventing and resolving disputes related to a party wall, construction units or common building structures with individual owners.
A “Party Wall” is defined as a wall or boundary between two adjoining properties. As such, both the property owners (or more than two, at times) have a right over this structure.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 which came into force in 1997, states the rights of the owner to do the construction or reformative work to prevent any nuisance or trespassing and is applicable across England and Wales. It also includes the Crown, government and local authority-owned property.
The Act considers the well-being of all the adjoining owners and offers party wall procedures to resolve the issues or concerns of any of them. Any owner who wants to reform or alter the shared property or building structure needs to inform other owners with a written notice which is known as a Party Wall Notice under the Party Wall Act. This is a legal and necessary procedure to be followed to make the neighbouring owners aware of the party wall work that may affect their part of the building structure.
The party wall notice must be served before 14 days so that the adjoining owners can give their consent or dissent on that matter. They can raise any concerns within this time period so that all the involved parties can come to an amicable solution.
Let’s come to the point!
If there is any conflicting situation or we can say a dispute arises, then the owner planning to do the construction work over the structure should go to a statutorily appointed party wall surveyor. The role of the party wall surveyor is to mediate and resolve party wall disputes between the two parties, as per the regulations given in the Party Wall Act.
In most cases, three scenario occurs –
- either the adjoining owner gives consent for the work
- or agrees to answer concerns with the help of a mutually agreed surveyor
- or choose an individual party wall surveyor for the solution.
Normally, the owner who undertakes the alteration work will pay the party wall surveyor fees.
However, there are exceptions especially when the owner finds the fees are unreasonable. In such cases, the owner has a right to choose a third surveyor or make an appeal in the County Court to recommend a reasonable amount as a fee. The best practice is to discuss the fees in advance so that the surveyors can check their timesheets and inform them about the exact fees.
The adjoining owner will pay in the following circumstances…
- If they want the party wall surveyor to mediate for any work other than what the owner aimed for. It could be more work over the same wall or structure. It is applicable also when they want the structure to be made of different materials.
- For anything that is beyond the party wall act. This means the owner is not liable for the surveyor’s fee for anything which is not directly related to their work.
- The adjoining owner needs to share the surveyor fees in case the matter is taken to the third surveyor. If the third surveyor gives the solution in favour of the owner, then the adjoining owner is liable for a portion of the overall fees.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, should be referred to and followed for any issues pertaining to party walls and building structures. When followed diligently, the Act will solve all complications and support adjoining owners to finish their work without any hassles. If you are concerned about any related party wall matters, feel free to share your voice with a team of experience party wall surveyors. They are more than happy to guide you throughout your problem.