Before doing any work on or near a party wall, you must serve notices under the Party Wall Act.
The Act is a powerful tool that can streamline the process of construction affecting shared walls, minimising the risk of disputes.
Collyer Bristow’s specialist party wall solicitors can advise developers and property owners on their rights and obligations under the Party Wall Act – and we can support you all the way through to court action if the work results in a property dispute.
What is the Party Wall Act?
The Party Wall Act 1996 was introduced with the aim of cutting down the number of party wall disputes taking place between neighbours. It applies whenever someone wants to make changes affecting a shared wall or boundary, for both residential and commercial property, such as:
- Changing a boundary walls or fence
- Digging or excavating beneath a boundary wall
- Digging foundations near to adjoining property
- Demolishing a party wall
- Cutting into a support beam
- Hanging a suspected ceiling beneath the floor of the premises above
- Damp-proof installation
The Act does a number of things. Its main thrust is to require the person carrying out the work to give neighbours a minimum of two months’ notice of their plans. Neighbours can approve the work in principle – with provisions for the payment of compensation, where relevant. Or, they can object to the renovations within 14 days.
What is a party wall dispute?
The most common type of party wall dispute occurs when the neighbour refuses to give consent to the proposed work. In this situation, the Party Wall Act requires that an independent surveyor is appointed to review the work and make an award, setting out details of:
- The current condition of the party wall
- The works to be carried out
- Protective measures needed to safeguard adjacent properties
- Timescales for each phase of the work
- Rules around the surveyor’s building inspection
Sometimes, a developer may forge ahead and do the work anyway, without their neighbour’s permission. The remedy here is to ask the court for an injunction. An injunction will stop the works until the various Party Wall Act protocols have been successfully completed.
How can Collyer Bristow help with party wall disputes?
Acting for developers and adjacent owners, we offer a full end-to-end service for party wall disputes. Contact a solicitor for more information.