For the purposes of this blog, Icon Surveyors will not be considering the validity of any Counter Party Wall Notices (Counter Notices).
What is a Party Wall Notice?
In accordance with the provisions of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996,
A party wall notice is a document containing stipulated information of any proposed works pertaining to the Act that a building owner in exercising their rights, intends to carry out.
What are the Different Types of Party Wall Notice? What Makes Them Valid?
The party wall act provides for three different types of Party Wall Notice. These can be found in section 1, section 3 and section 6 of the Act.
- The first is known as a "Line of Junction Notice" - Section 1 Notice
- Second is a "Party Structure Notice" - Section 3 Notice
- Third is an "Adjacent Excavation Notice". - Section 6 Notice
For any of these stated Party Wall Notices to be valid, the following statutory requirements must be met.
What are the statutory requirements for a Line of Junction Notice to be valid?
Under section 1(2) of the Act any building owner who intends to build a new Party Wall or Fence on a line of junction, must at least one month prior to the commencement of any works, “serve on any adjoining owner a notice which indicates his desire to build and describes the intended wall.” In short, the Act does not oblige a building owner serving a section 1 notice to provide the building owner’s name and address.
What are the statutory requirements for a Party Structure Notice to be valid?
Section 3(1) provides that a building owner who wishes to carry out any of the works he is entitled to exercise under section 2 of the Act, can only do so if s/he first serves notice on all or any of the adjoining owners. Subsections (1)(a)(b)&(c) stipulates what must be included in the notice;
- The building owner's name and address, and
- The nature and particulars of the proposed work including, in cases where the building owner proposes to construct special foundations, plans, sections and details of construction of the special foundations together with reasonable particulars of the loads to be carried thereby; and
- The date on which the proposed works will commence
As can be surmised from the requirements under section 3 of the Act, a building owner exercising their section 2 rights, is required to provide a lot more information when serving a Party Structure Notice.
What are the statutory requirements for an Adjacent Excavation Notice to be valid?
Under section 6 of the Act, a building owner who intends to carry out any of the specified works stipulated in this section, must, at least one month prior to commencement of the works serve a notice on all adjoining owners stating what works s/he intends to carry out and whether there is an intention to underpin, strengthen or safeguard the foundations of the works being proposed. It also provides what should be served with the notice. The notice must also include, a copy of the plans showing both the size and depth of any excavation the building owner proposes to make together with the site details of any intended building or structure the building owner proposes to erect. Again, it should be noted that the Act has stayed silent on any requirement to provide a building owner’s name and address within the section 6 Notice?
Icon Surveyors would always recommend that a building owner provides their name and address on any Party Wall Notice that is being served on any adjoining neighbour. Although sections 1 and 6 of the Act are silent on these requirements, a court of law may well find that it does not meet the requirements of a statutory notice being valid under the two-tier test as set out by the Court of Appeal in, Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council v Total Fitness UK LtdEWCA Civ 1513, where Lord Justice Parker held that a valid statutory notice must firstly, be sufficiently clear for the adjoining owner to understand what has been proposed. That is to say, minor mistakes may not invalidate a Party Wall Notice, however, a failure to include a building owner’s name and address may be considered by the recipient party as not being sufficiently clear. And secondly, whether the Notice contains the information specifically set out in the statute. The failure of a building owner to provide the requisite information would culminate in the Party Wall Notice being void.
Icon Surveyors are happy to provide free party wall advice to any building or adjoining owners who may be affected by the subject matter raised in this blog.
Note*: This blog is not an authoritative interpretation of the law; it is intended as a general guide.