Party walls are a hot topic in the UK property market. They are the dividing line between two properties, and can cause a lot of confusion for property owners. But what exactly are they, and why should you care? Let’s take a look at party walls and why they matter to your property in the UK.
Party walls are a form of boundary between two adjacent properties. They can be external or internal walls, fences, floors or roofs. In the UK, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 regulates the rights and duties of homeowners in relation to these walls. This Act is designed to protect the interests of both homeowners, ensuring that building works do not interfere with each other’s property.
What is a Party Wall?
A party wall is a wall that stands on the land of two different owners, either forming part of a building or standing alone. They are typically used to separate two buildings or two parts of the same building, and can be either masonry or timber. Party walls are important as they provide a boundary between two properties and help protect the rights of both parties.
When constructing a party wall, it’s important to ensure that the wall is built to the correct standards and that it is robust enough to withstand the elements. The wall should also be built in such a way that it does not interfere with the rights of either party. For example, a party wall should not be built on a line of the junction where one property’s rights are infringed upon by the other’s.
Who Typically Owns a Party Wall?
When it comes to ownership of a party wall, there are two main parties involved: the building owner and the adjoining owner. The building owner is the owner undertaking the building work, whereas the adjoining owner is the owner of the land and buildings adjoined to those of the building owner.
The legal ownership of a party wall lies with the owner receiving rent or profits from the land, or the person in possession of the land, such as a purchaser under an executed contract. It's important to note that if the land is held by a mortgage or as a tenant under a yearly tenancy or less, or as a tenant at will, then the legal ownership of the wall lies with the owner of the property to which it is attached.
With that in mind, the building owner is responsible for ensuring that the work is done properly and that the adjoining owner is not unduly disturbed. The building owner is also responsible for any damage that may be caused to the adjoining owner’s property during the construction or repair of the party wall.
Breaking Down Different Types of Walls and Boundaries
When it comes to dividing and protecting your property, there are many different types of walls and boundaries you can use. From party walls to boundary walls, retaining walls, and building faces, each type of wall serves a unique purpose and can help you secure your property.
- Boundary Walls: Boundary walls are walls that are used to separate two different properties. Unlike party walls, boundary walls are typically owned by one of the properties, and are constructed of brick or stone. Boundary walls are usually used to provide privacy between the two properties, and can also be used as a form of security.
- Retaining Walls: Retaining walls are typically used to hold back soil and prevent erosion. They are usually constructed from brick, stone, or concrete and are typically taller than the average wall. Retaining walls are designed to provide a physical barrier between two pieces of land and protect the soil from erosion or other damage caused by water or wind.
- Building Faces: Building faces are the exterior walls of a building. They are typically constructed from brick, stone, or concrete and are typically taller than the average wall. Building faces are designed to provide a physical and visual barrier between the inside and outside of a building. They also provide protection from the elements and can be used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of a building.
The Basics of Party Wall Laws
The Party Wall Etc. Act 1996 provides a framework for people who share a wall to protect each other’s property rights. The Act is designed to ensure that any construction work that affects walls, fences, or other parts of a building that are shared between two or more properties is done with the consent of those affected.
The Act applies to any work that affects the structure or foundations of a building, such as alterations, repairs, or extensions. It also applies to any work that affects a shared wall or fence, such as building a new wall or raising the height of an existing one.
The Act sets out the process for two parties to follow if they are affected by work that requires the consent of the other party. This includes agreeing to a written party wall award, which sets out the terms of the work, including who is responsible for any damage or costs associated with the work.
The Act also includes provisions for dealing with disputes that may arise between the two parties. This includes the right of the affected party to appoint a surveyor to act on their behalf in negotiations and disputes.
The Bottom Line: The Importance of Understanding Party Wall Laws
Party wall laws are an important part of understanding the legalities of owning and maintaining a property. These laws are in place to protect both the property owner and their neighbour from potential conflicts and disputes that could arise from shared walls and boundaries. With that in mind, it's important to take the time to research and understand the party wall laws in your state before beginning any construction or repair projects that could involve a shared wall or boundary.
Icon Surveyors is a leading provider of party wall surveys and agreements in the UK. Our surveyors are highly experienced in the field of party wall agreements and have the expertise to ensure that your agreement is compliant and meets all necessary regulations. Contact us today!