FAQs – Party Wall

What happens if I do not receive Party Wall Notice from my neighbour?

Currently there is no penalty or enforcement measure under the Act in the event that a Party Wall Notice is not served.  However, the adjoining owner may be able to apply to the courts and obtain an injunction to stop any notifiable works until a Party Wall Award is made.

We recommend to seek independent legal advice and take photographs of your property and retain for your files.

What does a Party Wall Surveyor do?

Once appointed, the appointed Surveyor(s) will prepare and serve a Party Wall Award.  An Award is a legal document between the two owners in accordance with the proposed works.  The Award will determine the manor and execution of the proposed works.  The Surveyor(s) would typically produce a ‘schedule of condition’ of the Adjoining Owner’s property, which would form appendix to the Award.  The schedule of condition would be referred to during any interim or final inspection to determine if damage has been caused as a result from the works.

Who is responsible for the surveyor’s fee?

Typically and in most circumstances the Building Owner would be responsible for all Surveyor’s fee.  This is typical as the Adjoining Owner rarely benefits from the proposed works.  The appointed surveyors will make the final determination on who is responsible for fees and make reference to this in the Award.

Does the Act assist with ‘Right to Light’ and ‘Boundary disputes’?

The Act does not have jurisdiction to determine such matters, therefore this would be outside the remit of the surveyors.

If the Adjoining Owners consents to the Notice, are they still covered if damage occurs?

If the Adjoining Owner consents, they do not lose any rights under the Act.  Consenting to the notice implies that at that specific stage there is no dispute.

However, if at a later date a dispute arises which cannot be resolved, (usually regarding damages) then section 10 of the Act can be implemented and the appointment of surveyors can take place.

What can I do if I don’t agree with the decisions my Surveyor has made?

The Surveyor is under no obligation to ‘take instruction’ from their appointing owner.  The Surveyor have authority to make an Award on behalf on their appointing owners in the interest of the Act.  However both the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner would have the opportunity to appeal the Award in County Court within 14 days of being served under section 10(17) of the Act.

Do I have any rights to access my neighbour’s property throughout the works?

The Act does allow access onto a neighbouring property, however this can only be granted if a certain criteria is met and the access is required in pursuant to the Act.

You should always take advice from your surveyor regarding this as each case can be different.

Do I need to serve notice for minor works?

The government explanatory booklet does provide example of works that are too minor to warrant serving a notice.  These include items such as:

  • Drilling into a party wall to fix plugs and screw for shelving of picture frames
  • Cutting into the wall to add wiring and sockets
  • Removing old plaster and re-applying

It is always advisable to speak to a surveyor to determine if the works are notifiable or not.

What do I do if I receive a Party Wall notice?

Assuming the notice is valid, the adjoining owner would usually have two options.

The adjoining owner can consent to the notice and there would be no further action – although it is advisable to have a ‘schedule of condition’ undertaken the property.

The second option is to dissent to the notice and appoint a surveyor.  A ‘dispute’ arises under the Act and would be resolved by the Surveyor(s) agreeing and serving a Party Wall Award.

What works are notifiable under the Party Wall Act?

The Act has three sections where proposed works may be notifiable.

Section 1 – When the Building owner intends to build a wall upto or astride the boundary line.

Section 3 – This section covers a large area of works that may affect a party wall, party structure or party fence wall.  Typically include cutting into or away from a party wall, removing chimney breasts, raising party wall and so on.

Section 6 – Excavation work within 3 or 6 metres of your neighbour’s property and to a lower depth than their foundations.  The 6 metre is slightly different and owner applies to deep excavations.

What is Party Wall Notice?

A party wall notice is the first ‘official’ document a building owner would serve on an Adjoining Owner(s).

They will indicate what works they propose to build and what section this applies to under the Act.  There will also be a ‘reply form’ where the adjoining owner can consent or dissent to the works.

What is a Party Wall?

Simply put, it is a wall that divides two owners where each owner has a right to the wall.

This can be a traditional wall that separates two semi-detached properties or in a terraced street.

What is a Party Fence Wall?

A party fence stands astride the boundary on two properties, but it is not part of the building.

What is a Party structure?

A party structure forms any part of a building which provides a divide from other parts owned by a neighbour.  A good example is the floor and walls between flats or commercial properties.

What is a Party Wall Act?

The Act is legislation that provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes regarding specific works.  If an adjoining owner has concerns over the proposed works then they can dissent to a notice and appoint a surveyor to make the Award.

Can we have one Surveyor for both parties?

Both the Building Owner and Adjoining owner can appoint an ‘Agreed Surveyor’.

The agreed surveyor will carry out the same work and process as two separate Surveyors, but usually at a faster and cheaper rate.  Different to when two surveyors are involved, a third surveyor will not be selected to deal with any differences throughout the case.  The building and Adjoining Owner will have 14 days to appeal the Award in county court if they feel it has been made improper.

It is important to establish that the Agreed surveyor would have an obligation under the Act to proceed impartially and effectively at all times.

I have a good relationship with my neighbours and they are happy with my works, what happens then?

The Building Owner still has a legal obligation to serve the necessary Party Wall Notices under the Act, regardless of the relationship with the neighbour.

If the Adjoining Owner is happy with the works then serving party wall notice shouldn’t be an issue.  This would protect both parties in the future if a dispute does arise.  The Building Owner has followed the correct legal procedure and if both parties cannot agree upon any forthcoming dispute then Surveyors can be appointed at a later date.

What is a Party Wall Award?

This is the legally binding document in accordance to the proposed works.  It will be agreed and serve from the appointed surveyor(s) and include details on the manner and execution of the works.

If a dispute occurs as a result from the notice, the only way to ‘resolve’ this is the service of the Award.

What is a schedule of condition?

A schedule of condition is a photographic record typically with descriptive text of the adjoining owner’s property prior to commencement of works.  The report will detail the current materials, pre-existing defects in all relevant areas that could be affected from the works.

The report would typically be used on a re-inspection of the adjoining owner’s property once the works have completed to establish if any damage has arisen.