What is a Party Wall Agreement Notice?

What does a Party Wall Agreement Notice Mean?

What To Do If You Receive A Party Wall Agreement Notice?

How Can I Resolve Any Issues That Come Up With My Neighbour During Construction?

Construction Walls

What is a Party Wall Agreement Notice?

If your neighbour is planning major structural construction work or excavations involving a structure or boundary wall they share with you, they will need to arrange for you to receive a Party Wall Notice.

The Party Wall Act (1996) makes serving Party Wall Notices a legal requirement for all building owners planning major works on, or near to, boundaries. They ensure that both sides affected by proposed construction are protected by transparency and independent expert advice before work commences.

The Act is aimed at reducing the likelihood of conflict due to significant construction works by facilitating agreement between the interested parties as projects are planned. The first formal part of the process is the issuing, acceptance or rejection of a Party Wall Notice document.

Once the owner of a property adjoining planned works has received a Party Wall Notification letter, they have 14 days to reply. We have prepared this quick guide to advise on the correct responses.

What does a Party Wall Agreement Notice Mean?

A Party Wall Notice is formal written advice from the owner of a neighbouring building that advises of planned construction or excavation works that will impact at, or on, a boundary with your property. The minimum Party Wall Notice period required varies depending on the type of work but is normally two months before any work is scheduled to commence.

party wall notice period

It is likely to come from the adjoining property owner or their legal representatives. For the purposes of the act ‘owner’ is defined, for all properties involved, as the person or body holding the freehold title, holding a leasehold title for over a, being under contract to purchase such a freehold or leasehold title or receiving rents from the property.

Any Party Wall notice letter should outline the proposed work and provide a start date and end date at the very least. Receiving a notice gives you the chance to let the owner know of your thoughts on the proposed works.

They are the mechanism by which you can agree to the work going ahead or raise your concerns.

What Work Requires A Party Wall Notice

There is no need to comply with the Party Wall Act for small pieces of work such as plastering, installing shelves or adding electrical wiring, for example. So, when is a Party Wall Agreement needed? The Act specifies major works that require a Party Wall Notice as below.

Building a free standing wall or a wall of a building up to or astride the boundary with a neighbouring property

Work on an existing party wall or party structure or building against such a party wall or party structure

Excavating near a neighbouring building

Wooden fences, hedges and other natural barriers are not included. Party Wall Act legislation applies separately to Planning Permission. As an adjoining building owner, you can reject a Party Wall Notice whether Planning Permission has been granted or otherwise.

What To Do If You Receive A Party Wall Agreement Notice?

The first task when you received a Party Wall Notice is to check the works are explained in sufficient detail and you feel you can make an informed decision. If that’s the not the case, you may wish to query details with the building owner. If it is, and you are clear on the proposed works, you have 14 days to consider your response.

Receive A Party Wall Agreement

If you fail to respond within that period at all, the owner is bound by the Party Wall Act to consider the agreement ‘dissented’ and continue the process assuming you have said no. Let’s first, though, assume you have no issues to the proposed work.

We can provide survey, protocol and delivery teams who can protect the interests of both landlords and tenants. There’s no need to face a dilapidations dispute without the right professional support.

Give Consent To The Party Wall Notice

Giving consent is the easiest of the response options. It simply means putting in writing that you agree with the works as proposed. It is likely you’ll then be asked to sign a Party Wall Agreement to move forward.

Party Wall Notice Consent

Even if work seems straightforward, it is always worth getting professional advice through a Chartered Surveyor at this stage.

They can make an assessment of the works, record the current state of your property and take photographs and measurements. This will support any complaint or request for compensation should your neighbour deviate from the agreed plan.

You also have the right to offer suggestions and modifications to plans before you consent to them through a Counter-Notice. If you wish to do this, you should alert a building’s owner to this in your initial response. You can then follow up with the details within 30 days.

Give a Party Wall Counter-Notice

As highlighted above, you have the right to request modifications to your neighbour’s Party Wall building plans. This means you can caveat any acceptance in writing with a counteroffer that details your suggested alterations to the plan.

Again, it might be useful to consult with professionals during this process to ensure your Counter-Notice is feasible and well-received.

Give a Party Wall Counter-Notice

Dissent The Notice & Let The Owner Appoint A Party Wall Surveyor

Saying no to a Party Wall Notice is referred to as ‘dissent’. You do not have the right to dissent from a building owner working on their property, however, without giving them the chance to respond and provide evidence the work is acceptable.

Appointing Party Wall Surveyor

This is done through the appointment of a suitably qualified and experienced Chartered Party Wall Surveyor to write a report.

The intention is to provide an independent, transparent and fair summary of the works, mitigate perceived risks and recommend a solution. On receipt of the report, you can agree and sign the resulting Party Wall Agreement to go ahead.

If you do not agree, have the Act makes provision for an appeals process.

Dissent The Notice & Appoint Your Own Party Wall Surveyor

You do not have to accept the surveyor suggested by the building owner or their recommendations. You have the right, under the Party Wall Act to choose your own Chartered Surveyor to investigate the matter, assess the works and make recommendations. Your own surveyor costs must be settled by the business owner issuing the Party Wall Notice.

If the business owner does not agree with your surveyors’ report, there is an appeals process involving hiring a third independent professional.

outdoor construction

The Party Wall Award Appeal Process

If, after two Party Wall surveys, there is still disagreement the Party Wall Act requires the appointment of a third surveyor to adjudicate and, if they agree work can continue, award a Party Wall Agreement to the owner.

Failure to agree, or comply, with the Act then becomes a matter of potentially costly legal actions and injunctions that are probably best avoided from both sides.

How Can I Resolve Any Issues That Come Up With My Neighbour During Construction?

Having a Party Wall Agreement doesn’t necessarily mean the project will run smoothly, of course. Things can, and do, often change as the work progresses. We would suggest regular communication and creating a spirit of collaboration with your neighbours is the best way to ensure issues are easily resolved.

renovating bricked building

Consciously breaking a Party Wall Agreement is considered a breach of a Statutory Duty which any Court is likely to take seriously.

In practice, this means that, as a neighbour, any claim for damages or repairs that result from a building owner breaking a Party Wall Agreement is likely to be successful.

Before taking steps towards any legal resolution, it is important to get advice from professionals in the construction industry who can advice on the scope of any Party Wall Agreement breach and the costs associated with any damage or delay.

If you would like to discuss your party wall requirements further, please call our office on 020 7391 7100 or email us at surveyor@fandt.com.