The Party Wall Act - Part Three← Back

Adjoining owners should understand that the Party Wall Act is to facilitate development not stop it.
 In return for rights to carry out certain works, the Building Owner (the person having the work done) must notify you in advance.
He is made legally responsible for putting right any damage caused by carrying out the works, even if the damage was caused by his contractor.
You cannot stop someone from exercising their rights under the Party Wall Act, but you may be able to influence how and at what times the work is done.
If you decide to ignore the notice sent to you and refuse to respond to a notice from a Building owner, he will be able to appoint a second surveyor on your behalf so that the dispute resolution procedure can proceed without your co-operation and could look to claim the cost back from you.

What does the Act say if any neighbour wants to carry out building work?
If your neighbour intends to carry out building work which involves one of the following categories, then they must notify you in writing before they start the work:
  • Work on an existing wall or structure shared with another property.
  • Building a free standing wall or a wall of a building up to or  astride the boundary with a neighboring property;
  • Excavating near a neighbouring building.
What do I do if I receive a party wall Act notice from my neighbour?

If you receive a notice from your neighbour you should reply to it within 14 days of receiving it.
You do not need to employ a professional to respond to it on your behalf.
You can agree or disagree with the notice.
  1. If you do not respond to a notice about a new boundary wall a fence or a new wall being built astride an existing boundary wall, then the work can commence after one months of the date which the notice was served. The building owner may place any necessary footings and foundations under your land as long as it is not reinforced concrete.
  1. If you do not respond to a notice about work on an existing party wall, or a notice about excavations within 3m or 6m of your foundations, a dispute is regarded to have arisen. The building owner will give you an opportunity to employ your own party wall surveyor to agree the work. If you do not, then the Building owner may employ a party wall surveyor on your behalf.
  1. If  you disagree with the work described in a notice, and then you should explain why. The Building Owner can then consider your objection and perhaps amend his proposal. Agreement might then be reached.
  1. If you believe that your neighbour is about to start work and you have not receive a Party Wall Act notice , then you should let your neighbour know, in writing, about the Act.
  1. If your neighbour starts work and you have not received a Party Wall Act notice, then you may seek to stop the work through a court injunction but get professional legal advice first.

What if I cannot reach an agreement with my neighbour?
The best way of settling any point of difference is by friendly discussion with your neighbour.
If you cannot reach an agreement then you both can appoint an agreed surveyor to draw up an award or alternatively, each owner can appoint a surveyor to draw up the award together.
If they cannot agree, then a third surveyor must be appointed. Their duty is to resolve matters in a fair and practical way.
What about access into my property?
Under the Act, you must allow when necessary workmen to carry out the works in pursuance of the Act (but only those works). They must give you written notice 14 days before access is required.
It is an offence and you can be prosecuted in a magistrate’s court to refuse entry or obstruct someone who is entitled to enter your land / premises.
It is to your benefit to allow access, for example, for scaffolding or to allow pointing of walls, as the wall will probably be visually more acceptable to you if access is given.
What can I do to guard against the risk that the Building owner may leave work unfinished?
If there is a risk that you will be left in difficulties if the Building owner stops work at an inconvenient stage you can ask him, before he starts work, to make available an amount of money that would allow you to restore the status quo if he fails to do so.
The money remains his throughout, but if for example, you need to have a wall re-built then you, or more commonly the surveyors, can draw on that security to pay for  the re-building.
This provision is usually reserved for particularly intrusive or complex works.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about Party Wall Act  then message us here.
The Party Wall Act – explanatory booklet can be downloaded by clicking here.