We receive around three calls weekly from building owners whose adjoining neighbours conduct works under the Party Wall Act without issuing a party wall notice.
Learning that such actions do not attract any penalties and their only option is to apply for a court injunction comes as a surprise.
For many building owners, acquiring an injunction is not only extreme, but it can also be costly.
Chances are that the works will already be complete when the case is heard in a court of law.
While some projects may take long before completion works that fall under the party wall act can be completed within a day.
Many building owners, solicitors, and surveyors do not know how complex reviewing and authorizing works are under the party wall act.
You can neither serve a party wall notice nor have a party wall award after the excavation or building works are complete.
Usually, the party wall act is effected by serving a party wall notice, and a party wall award cannot exist without a party wall notice.
According to some people, the party wall act eliminated the link between the nomination of party wall surveyors and the issuance of notice.
According to the Party Wall Act 1996, the party wall notice precedes the appointment of a party wall surveyor.
A building owner should serve a party wall notice between one and two months before commencing the works, based on where the Party wall act applies.
If you notice scaffolding activities within your neighbourhood and a notice has not been served, take immediate action.
Talk to the building owner and seek a party wall award before proceeding with works that fall within the act.
If you notice your neighbour shattering their patio in preparation for some construction work, talk to them and determine whether they will be serving a party wall notice.
Holding a short discussion with the building owner may encourage them to understand the party wall act.
Building owners who conduct works under the party wall act without issuing the party wall notices are either:
- Ignorant of the Party Wall Act 1996
- Think their neighbors are ignorant of the act
Having a friendly discussion before the work starts helps both parties understand the act and its requirements.
Once you receive the party wall notice, you can give your response as consent or dissent. Consenting is the best thing you can do to benefit adjoining owners but you should receive the notice first.
Even when the building owner has completed the works without serving a party wall notice, the law requires them to fix any damages caused by their works.
The courts have a low opinion about building owners who conduct works without serving a party wall notice and cause damages on their adjoining owner’s property.
A case in point is one case between John Dean and Roadrunner Properties Limited. The judge ruled that the building owner should take responsibility for failing to adhere to the legal requirements.
In his judgment, he said that building owners should refute a connection between the construction works and damages instead of contradicting the requirements of the law.
Building owners should do their works in strict adherence to the party wall act 1996.