This blog is not an authoritative interpretation of the law; it is intended as a general guide.
In this blog Icon Surveyors will be considering firstly, why the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 was enacted. Secondly, the fundamental rights of a building owner under section 2 of the Act and lastly, the rights and protections the Act put in place for adjoining owners.
Why Did Parliament Enact the Party Wall etc. Act 1996?
During the 1980’s in the English county of Sussex, a boundary dispute between a building owner who was carrying out works and their adjoining owners arose. In light of the of lack Building legislation pertaining to boundary disputes at the time, the dispute lasting in excess of 10 years, not only caused an immeasurable amount of distress to the parties, but racked up cost running into tens of thousands of pounds. As a result of this case, The Earl of Lytton, John Lytton, the surveyor that had been appointed to try to resolve the dispute, orchestrated a Private Members Bill, so as to close the troublesome legislative gaps that he believed caused such disputes. It thus provides a legislative structure from which parties who share a boundary are able to carry out building works in the knowledge that each of their respective rights will be protected.
The Rights of a Building Owner
Building owners are afforded many rights under the Act the most fundamental of which can be found in section 2, which enables a land owner to carry out repairs and/or build new structures or remove old ones that either butt up to or sit on a boundary/party wall line. Such works inherently interfere with the rights and/or interests of a neighbouring property. Thus, any building owner who proposes to exercise their rights under section 2 of the Act can only do so under the proviso that they will be held liable for any damage and/or unreasonable interference caused to an adjoining neighbour and/or their property as a result of the works.
The Rights and Protections of an Adjoining Owner
Adjoining owners are afforded rights and protections that seek to shield them and/or their property from any damage and/or interference that may be caused by works that are being proposed to be carried out by a neighbouring building owner. For the purposes of this blog Icon Surveyors, will focus on a key right under sections 1, 3 and 6 of the Act and one of the fundamental protections under section 2 of the Act.
Under sections 1, 3 and 6 of the Act, an adjoining owner is afforded the statutory right to be notified by a building owner who proposes to carry out any of the works that have been specified under section 2 of the Act. This right extends further in that it gives an adjoining owner that has been served a Party Wall Notice the right to either consent to or object all and or any of the proposed works.
Under section 2 of the Act, a building owner is subject to all and/or any expenses arising from any damage or interference to an adjoining owner’s person or property. Thus, an adjoining owner is fully protected against any damage and/or interferences that may result from the notifiable works being carried out by a building owner
Icon Surveyors are happy to provide a free consultation to any building or adjoining owners who may be affected by the subject matter raised in this blog.