Shared walls that separate land or buildings – such as semi-detached or terraced houses – and are owned by different parties are known as party walls. A party wall may either straddle a boundary or may stand wholly on one owner’s land but be used to separate buildings owned by other people.
Party walls are a frequent cause of disputes between neighbours, which is why seeking the advice of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s property specialists is a sensible step to minimise the risk.
The Party Wall Act 1996 contains various regulations designed to help prevent disputes occurring. These include a requirement to inform all neighbours by serving the requisite notice at least two months in advance before the planned starting date when you intend to carry out any structural work, including:
- cutting into the wall
- inserting a damp proof course
- raising a party wall
- demolishing and rebuilding a party wall
- excavating foundations.
(Minor work such as re-plastering, installing shelving, installing or replacing electrical wiring or putting in electrical sockets are not covered by this requirement.)
It is important to note that the notice is only valid for a year, so it must not be served too long before the planned starting date.
Neighbours then have 14 days to object, or provide written agreement on the basis that time limits, compensation and temporary protection are put in place.
If they do not agree, the next step is to appoint a surveyor – either a single, independent surveyor or surveyors representing each party – to prepare a party wall report setting out details including:
- the exact nature of the building work
- when and how it must be carried out – including any time limits
- the condition of the party wall before work begins
- whether any temporary protection is needed.
Before carrying out any structural work, Mackrell Turner Garrett’s property specialists can advise you on whether the Party Wall Act applies and on your responsibilities under the act to ensure that you comply with legal requirements and minimise the risk of a dispute with your neighbours. We can also advise you on your options if you receive notification that your neighbour intends to carry out structural work.
Building owners are not always aware of or comply with Party Wall Act requirements. If your neighbour is carrying out work that involves a party wall, we can assess whether they have acted in compliance with the Party Wall Act and advise you on your options, including putting in place specific arrangements relating to the building work, such as time restraints or compensation.
In the most serious cases, we can advise and assist in preventing the building work taking place but we understand that most people want to minimise the cost and time involved in resolving a dispute and we aim to assist clients in settling matters quickly and constructively.
For more information on our party wall disputes services, please contact us.