The Party Wall Act (1996) provides that you must obtain the written consent from the owners of a neighbouring house before commencing certain building works. The Act relates to the construction and repair of walls on the line of the junction as well as any adjacent excavation and construction. The fact that you may have the sole responsibility under your title deeds to maintain the party wall does not mean that you actually own it and can therefore do works to it without the consent of your neighbour. Building works requiring written consent include:
work on an existing wall shared with another property
building on the boundary of a neighbouring property
excavating near an adjoining building
However, you must still comply with the need for planning permission and building regulations.
While the Act contains no enforcement procedures for failing to serve the proper notice if you should start the works without first complying with the Act it is open to your neighbour to seek to stop you from carrying out those works by obtaining an injunction against you or other legal redress.
The procedures laid down in the Act cannot be used to resolve a dispute concerning the actual boundary between you and your neighbour. This must be agreed between the parties either through agreement or, as a last resort, determined by the Court.
The Act introduces a framework by which disputes in relation to excavations and other works near boundaries or neighbouring buildings can be resolved. Anyone proposing works affected by the Party Wall Act must give adjoining owners notice of their intentions and details of the proposed works including plans of the works. This notice applies even when the work will not go beyond the centre line of the division of the properties.
It is necessary to serve written Notice on the adjoining property before work commences. There is no official form for the notice but the notice must contain full details and plans of the proposed work. If agreement is reached with your neighbour regarding the proposed works please note that the agreement must be in writing to comply with the Act. The Act contains many time periods and it is prudent to obtain the advice of a solicitor or surveyor before embarking upon any building that affects a boundary wall.
Quinn & Co have experience of boundary disputes concerning part wall matters and would be able to advice you in relation to a matter concerning the Act. Should you wish to discuss your matter with us please contact Joseph Quinn on 01392 248858.
This article does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken before acting on any of the topics covered.