Party walls are a common feature in London, where many properties share adjoining walls or structures.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 was introduced to provide a framework for preventing and resolving disputes between neighbours in relation to party walls, boundary walls, and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
This comprehensive guide will provide property owners with all the information they need to understand party walls and the role of a party wall surveyor in London.
1:Understanding Party Walls
1.1 What is a party wall?
A party wall is a shared wall, usually between two properties, that is jointly owned by both property owners. It can be part of a building, such as the dividing wall between two houses or flats, or a garden wall that separates two gardens. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 defines a party wall as:
– A wall that forms part of a building and stands on the lands of different owners (known as a Type A party wall)
– A wall that stands on the lands of two owners but does not form part of a building (known as a Type B party wall)
– A wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by two or more owners to separate their buildings (known as a Type C party wall)
1.2 The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a piece of legislation that sets out the rights and responsibilities of property owners in relation to party walls, boundary walls, and excavations near neighbouring buildings. The Act aims to prevent and resolve disputes by providing a clear process for property owners to follow when undertaking work that may affect a party wall.
2: Party Wall Notices and Agreements
2.1 When is a party wall notice required?
If you are planning to carry out work that may affect a party wall, you must provide written notice to your neighbour. This is known as a party wall notice. The types of work that require a party wall notice include:
– Building a new wall at the boundary of two properties
– Altering or demolishing a party wall or structure
– Excavating within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring building, depending on the depth of the excavation
2.2 How to serve a party wall notice
A party wall notice should include the following information:
– Your name and address
– A clear description of the proposed work, including plans and drawings if necessary
– The date the work will begin
– A statement that the notice is being served under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
You should send the notice to your neighbour at least two months before the planned start date for the work. It is a good idea to discuss the proposed work with your neighbour before serving the notice, as this can help to avoid disputes.
2.3 Party wall agreements
If your neighbour consents to the proposed work, you should confirm this in writing. This is known as a party wall agreement or an ‘award’. The agreement should include:
– The details of the proposed work
– The agreed start and end dates for the work
– Any additional conditions or requirements, such as access arrangements or compensation for any damage caused
If your neighbour does not respond to the party wall notice within 14 days, or if they do not agree to the proposed work, you will need to appoint a party wall surveyor to resolve the dispute.
Section 3: The Role of a Party Wall Surveyor in London
3.1 What is a party wall surveyor?
A party wall surveyor is an impartial expert who is appointed to resolve disputes between property owners in relation to party walls. They are responsible for preparing a party wall agreement, known as an ‘award’, which sets out the terms and conditions for the proposed work.
3.2 How to find a party wall surveyor in London
Party wall surveyors can be found through professional organisations, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS). You can also ask for recommendations from friends or family, or search online for a local party wall surveyor in London.
3.3 The party wall surveyor’s role in resolving disputes
If a dispute arises between property owners, the party wall surveyor will:
– Assess the proposed work and its potential impact on the party wall
– Review any objections or concerns raised by the neighbouring property owner
– Prepare a party wall award, which sets out the terms and conditions for the proposed work, including any necessary safeguards or compensation arrangements
The party wall award is legally binding on both property owners, and any work carried out must be in accordance with the terms of the award.
The bottom line
Understanding party walls and the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is essential for property owners in London who are planning to undertake work that may affect a shared wall or structure.
By following the correct procedures and working with a qualified party wall surveyor, property owners can ensure that their work is carried out safely and legally, and that any disputes are resolved fairly and efficiently.