We have been managing party wall matters for many years and have built up quite a few answers to particular questions. We thought an FAQ might be useful.
The government website has lots of good explanations on the Party Wall Act etc.1996 including the main types of party walls;
- Party wall type A: a wall that stands on the lands of 2 (or more) owners and forms part of a building – this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners
- Party wall type B: a wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by 2 (or more) owners to separate their buildings
- Party fence wall: a wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners but does not form part of a building, such as a garden wall but not including timber fences
Is re-pointing covered by the Act?
The government gives some examples of work that might be considered too minor to be notifiable including ‘cutting into a party wall to add or replace recessed electric wiring and sockets’ . We believe such work would pose a greater risk of damage than re-pointing, so in our view re-pointing isn’t notifiable.
We withdrew our notice but are still being asked to pay our neighbours surveyor’s fee?
Your neighbours surveyor is entitled to be paid for the work up to the point you withdrew your notice. You can ask for proof of the wok carried out such as a copy of the surveyor’s timesheet.
What would happen if notice isn’t served?
There are no fines or penalties within the Act. However the adjoining owner may apply for a court injunction to stop the works.
What happens if no reply to the notice is received within 14 days?
Under section 1, building a new wall on the line of junction, you will only have the right to build on your own land.
Under sections 2 and 6 of the Act, if there is no reply after 14 days then a dispute is deemed to have arisen and you and your neighbour must appoint a surveyor. If your neighbour still fails to respond, then after giving a further ten days to reply, you may appoint a surveyor on their behalf.
Is a single ‘agreed surveyor’ better than each party appointing separate surveyors?
Generally having two separate surveyors is preferable as there is an option to consult the third surveyor in the case of any disagreements. This option isn’t available when one agreed surveyor manages both parties.
As a building owner, do I have the right of access to my neighbour’s property to undertake the work, and as an adjoining owner do I have to grant access to the building owner to undertake the work?
If a surveyor has been appointed you must take his advice. There is a right of access within working hours on notice, but only if it is to undertake the notifiable work in accordance with the Act.
What does a Party Wall Surveyor do?
A Party Wall Surveyor makes sure notices are served properly. He or she prepares and agrees an Award and a Schedule of Condition. He or she will look at the works proposed and raise any queries regarding the works to ensure they are in accordance with the Act.
What is an Award or Party Wall Agreement?
This sets out the works to be carried out, how they are carried out and usually includes a pre-work Schedule of Condition of the adjoining owner’s property. This protects all parties if damage arises during the works and assists in avoiding or resolving any disputes.
Have you received a notice and don’t know what to do next?
Before acknowledging the notice (usually via an attached form) you should contact a party wall surveyor for advice. Your appointed party wall surveyor would deal with matters on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected under the provisions of the Act. Under all normal circumstances all of your party wall surveyor’s fees and reasonable associated costs would be met by the building owner proposing to undertake the work, not by you.
Please feel free to post below any particular Party Wall questions you may have, one of our specialist Chartered Surveyors would be delighted to help.
If you are involved in any Party Wall matters or have received a notice and would like some advice, please Contact Us