If you're a property owner, tenant or builder, it's essential to understand party wall matters. The Party Wall Act 1996 is a complex area of law, and many property owners need to be aware of their rights and obligations. Although party wall matters can be complicated and expensive, having a basic understanding of the law can help you sidestep disputes with your neighbours and ensure that your building works are executed legally and responsibly.
In this blog, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about party wall matters and provide some basic information to help you navigate this complex area of law.
A party wall is simply a wall that divides two or more properties. It can either be a wall that is shared between two adjacent properties or a wall that sits completely on one property but is utilised by multiple parties.
For instance, a party wall can be seen in the separation of semi-detached or terraced houses and in walls situated on the border between two properties. Another example of a party wall is a wall used to support a building. So, if you have ever wondered what a party wall is, it is merely a wall that serves as a dividing line between two or more properties.
The Party Wall Act 1996 is a piece of UK legislation that sets out the rights and responsibilities of property owners and occupiers with party walls. The Act was introduced to help resolve disputes between neighbours over party walls and to provide a legal framework for building works that might affect a party wall.
If you plan to carry out building work that affects a party wall, you must serve a party wall notice on your neighbours. The notice should include details of the proposed work and the date you intend to start.
If your neighbours agree to the job, you can proceed without further action. If they disagree, you must appoint a surveyor or surveyor to help resolve the dispute.
If you cannot agree with your neighbours over the proposed building works, the party wall surveyor or surveyors will prepare a party wall award. This legal document sets out the rights and obligations of all parties regarding the building works.
It will include details of the proposed works, any access arrangements that need to be made, and any compensation that needs to be paid. Once the party wall award has been agreed upon and signed, you can proceed with the building works.
You may be committing an offence if you carry out building works that affect a party wall without serving a party wall notice. Your neighbours can take legal action against you to prevent you from continuing the job or seek compensation for any damage caused. You may also be required to undo any work carried out.
A party wall surveyor is a qualified professional appointed to help resolve disputes between neighbours over party walls. They are typically chartered surveyors or architects with experience in party wall matters.
Sometimes, a single surveyor can be appointed to act for both parties. In other cases, each party will set their surveyor, and the two surveyors will nominate a third surveyor to act as an independent adjudicator if necessary.
Party wall matters can be complex and potentially costly for homeowners, tenants, and builders. Understanding the basics of party wall law and knowing when to serve a party wall notice can help avoid disputes with your neighbours and ensure that your building works are carried out legally and responsibly.
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