In this blog, Icon Surveyors will discuss who, in accordance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996, owns a Party Wall (who is a legal owner of party wall according to Party Wall Act).
To discuss this topic, first, we will consider the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 states a "Party Wall" is. Thereafter, we will look attentively at what categories of owners the Act refers to and any interest relating to a Party Wall each owner may hold.
The Party Wall Act refers to a "party wall" as a wall that stands on lands of different owners and forms part of a building that is not an artificially formed support on which the wall rests, or, a line of juncture which separates, land, buildings, and/or structures belonging to different owners. In other words, a party wall can be defined as a partition that divides land, buildings, or structures that two or more different owners share.
For example, anyone living in a terraced house would usually share the walls and perhaps the floors, ceilings, roofs or chimneys too. Another example might be a brick wall in either the front or back garden that divides two separate properties, both of these examples would be considered Party Walls.
Under the Act, there are two different types of owners who are referred. The first is an "adjoining owner" and the second is a "building owner."
An "adjoining owner" is any owner of land, buildings, storeys or rooms that adjoin those of a "building owner". A "building owner" is an owner of land who wishes to exercise their right to carry out works under section 2 of the Act. In other words, any person who owns the land and wishes to carry out work or build on their land may have an adjoining neighbour who shares a part of that land.
The ownership of the Party Wall depends on where a Party Wall is placed and who actually owns the land on which it sits. The ownership of a Party Wall is an important factor when taking into consideration who; is responsible for the maintenance of such a wall and the associated costs. Ownership of land can usually be determined in England and Wales by obtaining a copy of the Title Deeds from the Land Registry.
If we consider a garden wall that has been placed on the land of two different owners to separate the adjoining properties and that wall is placed in equal measures on each of the owner's land, each owner would own 50% of the Party Wall. If however, the wall was placed so that the majority of it was placed on one of the owner’s land, the Party Wall would not be owned in equal measures and whoever’s land the majority of the wall was placed on would own the larger portion of the Party Wall.
Icon Surveyors are happy to provide a free consultation of impartial advice to anyone who is considering or may become involved in a project that comprises Party Wall works.