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The Party Wall Act 1996 (‘PWA’) provides a framework for neighbours in England and Wales who share a boundary to carry out building works to a shared boundary wall or structure.

 

What is the PWA 1996?

The PWA was introduced because building works can cause damage to an adjoining property and interrupt the adjoining owner’s use and enjoyment of their property and any party wall or structure. The Act helps to prevent and resolve disputes between neighbours in relation to works carried out to party and boundary walls or works near to neighbouring buildings.

The PWA covers works which include:

  • Building on the boundary of two properties;
  • Carrying out works to an existing party wall or structure – i.e. repairing, altering, and demolishing;
  • Excavating near to and below the foundations of neighbouring buildings.

 

What is a ‘Party Wall’?

Types of ‘party wall’ include:

  • A wall which stands on the boundary of two or more property owners and forms part of a building;
  • A wall which stands on the boundary of two or more property owners but does not form part of a building – i.e. a garden wall;
  • A wall which stands on one property owner’s land but is used by two or more owners to separate their respective buildings.

To comply with the PWA, a building owner intending to carry out works must give all adjoining owners notice of the proposed works. There may be more than one adjoining owner, and an adjoining owner may include homeowners, the Crown, Government, and the Local Authority.

Once notice has been given, the adjoining owner has 14 days to give consent to the proposed works. Consent must be given in writing. If consent is not given within the 14-day period there is a presumed dispute between the building owner and the adjoining owner.

Alternatively, the adjoining owner may issue a counter-notice in response. Counter-notices must be served within a month of receiving the initial notice. The building owner then has 14 days to respond to the counter-notice. If no response is given, then again there will be a presumed dispute between the owners.

 

How to resolve a dispute?

Where a dispute has arisen, the building and adjoining owners may jointly appoint a party wall surveyor to assess the matter or they may each appoint their own surveyor who will then appoint a third surveyor to act as an independent third-party should any dispute arise between the two owners.

 

The outcome?

The party wall surveyor will work to resolve any matters connected to the proposed works, including:

  • Assessing the building owner’s right to carry out the works;
  • The timescale and manner in which works are carried out;
  • The erection of scaffolding;
  • Rights of access;
  • Any other matters such as costs involved.

The surveyor’s decision is known as an ‘Party Act Award’. An Award is final and binding. The Award will set out:

  • What works will be undertaken;
  • When and how the works will be carried out;
  • Costs of making the Award;
  • A record of the condition of the adjoining owner’s property before work has commenced.

 

Walker Solicitors have an experienced Property Team who can offer expert legal advice.

Contact us on 01922 639 080.

 

 

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