This blog is not an authoritative interpretation of the law; it is intended as a general guide.
In this blog Icon Surveyors will be considering what a Party Wall Notice is and why a Party Wall Notice may be required to build an extension.
What is a Party Wall Notice?
A Party Wall Notice is a legal notification to an adjoining owner of any intended works that are to be carried out by a building owner whose works will affect any part of the adjoining owner’s property.
Section 2 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides the legal right to a building owner to carry out certain works pertaining to any Party Wall. That is to say, if for example, a building owner wishes to build an extension to their property and to do so would involve butting the new structure onto a Party Wall that is jointly owned by both the building and adjoining owner, or, the building owner would need to excavate at a certain angle or distance from the Party Wall, although the Act permits a building owner to carry out such works, it also provides protection to an adjoining owner.
Why Do I need to serve a Party Wall Notice?
In accordance with section 3(1) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, a building owner who proposes to carry out any works in accordance with section 2 of the Act, has a statutory obligation prior to the commencement of any such works, to serve a ‘Party Wall Notice’ on any adjoining owner, stipulating the intended works the building owner proposes to carry out.
By serving a Party Wall Notice a building owner is informing an adjoining owner of any potential interference with their rights as land owners. That is to say, without being afforded the rights under the Act, a building owner that carries out works that interfere with another land is trespassing and would legally be liable to the adjoining owner for any inconvenience, loss or damage caused by the works. In addition, a Party Wall Notice gives the adjoining owner the opportunity to iron out any potential problems that are foreseen prior to the commencement of the proposed works.
As can be adduced from section 3 of the Act, serving a Party Wall Notice is a legal obligation that is placed upon the building owner. Therefore, a building owner who fails to adhere to their statutory obligations will be in breach of the Act. If a building owner chooses not to comply with their obligations under the Act, there is recourse therein for an adjoining owner to take affirmative action. This will usually be in the form of penalties. These range from stopping any works commencing to ceasing the continuation of works, or payment of loss or damages to an adjoining owner to a court ordering a building or structure to be demolished. Any of these penalties has the potential to far outweigh the benefits of building an extension without first serving a Party Wall Notice.
Icon Surveyors are happy to provide a free consultation to any building or adjoining owners who may be affected by the subject matter raised in this blog.