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What is the Party Wall Act 1996?

The primary purpose of the Act is to facilitate Property Development. In return for rights to carry out certain works to the property, the person having the work done (the Building Owner) must serve notice on the adjoining owner in advance ( the Adjoining Owner).

The Building Owner is made legally liable for putting right any damage caused by the works, even if the damage was caused by his contractor.

The Act covers Three Types of Notifiable Work

• Alterations to party structures such as walls separating houses

• Excavation work within 3 meters that is lower than existing neighbouring foundations

• New walls constructed on boundary lines

There are several conditions attached to the Act. These are:

• That the Building Owner must serve a party wall notice.

• Must be served at least 2 months before the planned start date to an existing boundary wall or 1 month if it relates to excavation close to a nearby wall or a new wall on the boundary line.

• If there is no response from the Adjoining Owner within 14 days it is assumed that he is dissenting and the building owner must appoint a party wall surveyor

The parties can then use the same surveyor or the neighbour can appoint their own who then negotiate with each other to produce what is known as an award. Or if the neighbour does not engage, the Building Owners surveyor can produce his own award.

Can You Appeal if you do not like the Award?

Yes. If you disagree with a party wall award you can appeal to the county court with 14 days of the award being served.

What Happens if the Building Owner does not Serve the Notice?

• Courts take dim view of those who proceed with work without serving Notice and go on to damage the neighbouring property. In the case Road Runner Properties V John Deen court made it clear that the Building Owner should not gain advantage by failing to comply with statutory requirements.

• Burden will be on the Building Owner to disprove the link between damage and work thereby reversing the normal burden of proof.

• Also, the adjoining owners would have the right to apply to the court to stop the works absent a proper notice.

As an Independent Solicitor I am able to work with both Building Owner’s and Adjoining Owner’s to provide legal advice or initiate legal proceedings in relation to the Party Wall Act 1996. Please contact me to find out more details.

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