If your neighbour is planning construction works that fall under the remit of Party Wall etc. Act 1996, you have likely heard the term ‘Party Wall Access'.
If the neighbours proposed works include building up to, or astride your boundary line, or even raising the Party Wall. It is inevitable the neighbour’s contractor will require access to your land in order to complete construction works safely and in a professional manner.
Having a neighbour’s contractor undertaking works within your land, is not preferable, especially when you are not a beneficiary of the works. With this in mind, it is common for most owners to be against access.
Can you refuse your neighbour access to your property?
In short no. Why? I will address this question within this blog post as well as explaining why providing Party Wall Access may be beneficial.
Why you can’t refuse Party Wall Access?
The Building Owners have a legal right to gain Party Wall Access as confirmed within the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. The issue is addressed in Section 8 of the Act, detailing the Building Owners right of access.
It is Section 8(1) which states:
‘A building owner, his servants, agents and workmen may during usual working hours enter and remain on any land or premises for the purpose of executing any work in pursuance of this Act and may remove any furniture or fittings or take any other action necessary for that purpose.’
The Act is clear, and there is no way around it. However, you may be asking;
What if I refuse Party Wall Access anyway?
Refusing Party Wall Access is a breach of the Party Wall Act. Given the legal nature of the Act, refusing Party Wall Access is a breach of the law. With this in mind, you will struggle to find a Party Wall Surveyor who would support the decision to refuse access, the Party Wall Award will be drawn up with a clause awarding the Building Owner’s right to access.
Upon Service of the Award, if you still deny access the building owner is within their right to break open any fences, or doors in order to enter the premises.
Yes, incredibly the Act facilitates this:
If the premises are closed, the building owner, his agents and workmen may, if accompanied by a constable or other police officer, break open any fences or doors in order to enter the premises
You would also be partial to a Level 3 fine as referred to in Section 16 of the Act. The fine is circa £1,000.00, as stated by the Criminal Justice Act 1982.
If you receive a Section 8 Notice with the intention to enter your land, the building owner must give a minimum of 14 day’s notice prior to the planned access. We always recommend having a quick neighbourly discussion, upon receipt of the section 8 Notice, as
Refusing Party Wall Access is simply not a good option for an adjoining owner.
Here at Icon Surveyors, we believe providing Party Wall Access is to your benefit. The reason we believe this to be the case is being compliant with Party Wall Access gives you the opportunity to have a conversation with your neighbour and fine-tune the terms of the access. I.e. if you don’t want people gaining access via your front door you could agree another route access. A common way of access usually includes the part removal of your fence, this is usually specified and agreed within the Party Wall Award. There are various protective clauses included within the Party Wall Award to ensure the builders respect your land and the access poses minimal nuisance.
More often than not, we find the building owner wants the works to occur as quickly as possible, for this reason, they are often compliant with the adjoining owner’s requests. If you are able to undertake constructive conversations the earlier the better, this is the best way to avoid neighbourly disputes, that commonly arise during these types of construction work.
To conclude, you cannot refuse Party Wall Access as there will be significant consequences. However, Party Wall Access doesn’t need to be as painful as it seems, a constructive neighbourly discussion can make the presence of contractors within your land as smooth as possible.
If you want would like to discuss Party Wall Access further, or have any other surveying related questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call for Free party Wall advice! We are here to help.