The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 has been established for over 20 years yet it’s still commonplace for many people to misunderstand the law and details of the act. Here at Roger Hannah & Co, we wanted to put these confusions to bed so we’ve listed the common misunderstandings below to help relieve any false thoughts.
Act Doesn’t Apply to Extensions on Your Own Land
In reference to part 6 of the Act, which address adjacent excavations. Put simply, it states that even if the build is within your own grounds, the Act recognises that this could potentially bring risk to your neighbour’s foundations. To meet the scope of the Act you must be excavating within 3 metres of your neighbour’s foundations and below their base (this can be extended to 6 metres if your foundations are deep).
If My Neighbour Has Given Consent, Do I Still Need to Serve Party Wall Notice
Official consent can’t be given under the Act until the notice is served, even if your relationship with your neighbours is a strong one. Even if they’ve given you verbal permission, you should still serve the notice – they will then be given a 2-week period to confirm in writing. This measure just gives some security that their rights are safe is any damage occurs and a chartered surveyor is needed at a later date.
Should I Produce a Retrospective Award If Works Have Gone Ahead Without Notice?
With the official Act, it makes no reference to these awards or notices. There are cases where work has been granted retrospectively but it depended on the surveyor’s opinion of whether they believe authorization is capable (which it won’t if damage is present). If a neighbour has already completed the notifiable part of their work it will be a matter of dealing with any consequences that may have arisen, this more often than not is if damage has occurred to the adjoining owner’s property. If the neighbours cannot agree, however, the case will be escalated and it will have to be settled in court.
Access to Works Can Be Refused by Neighbour
For reference, part 8 of the Party Wall Act covers this access issue. Depending on the works in question, access is permitted subject to a 14-day notice period. It must be shown that there is a provision for access within the Act (if works require it) and that it is needed but if both are needed then it must be granted.
If you’re wanting to enforce a right of access over an uncompliant neighbour you don’t need to go down the courts route. Within the Act it gives building owners the right to ‘break open any fence or doors in order to enter the premises… if accompanied by a community support or other police offer’. That last bit’s important! You obviously don’t want to get to this point and an amicable solution is always best but these things can sometimes be trickier than desired.
If My Neighbour Hasn’t Replied, I’m Free to Start Work
As outlined in section 5 of the Act, the 14-day period is the time given to adjacent owners to give consent for the works. If they don’t give permission by the end of the period they are deemed to have dissented and must then appoint a party wall surveyor. If they fail to appoint a surveyor after a further reminder the Building Owner must appoint somebody on their behalf.
Party Walls can be a complicated matter and it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re looking to have works carried out, we recommend that you speak with one of our party wall specialists to ensure that you’re acting in the correct way during the whole process.