If you have been served with a notice under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, it means that your neighbour (the ‘Building Owner’), proposes to undertake, upon expiry of the notice, works which fall within the remit of the Act. This could involve the building of a new wall at the line of junction (boundary), works to raise, lower or rebuild a Party Fence Wall, or works affecting the Party Wall between your respective properties.
Most commonly, however, notice may be served if the Building Owner intends to excavate their own land to facilitate foundation construction where this falls within a specified distance from your property; Section 6 of the Act sets out the distances which define notifiability.
Upon receiving a notice, you have 14 days to either ‘consent’ to the proposals or ‘dissent’ (with the exception of notices served under Section 1(5) where a formal response is not needed). If you fail to respond within 14 days, this is known as ‘statutory dissent’ or 'deemed dissent'. Where dissent is communicated, a ‘dispute’ is deemed to have arisen under the Act requiring determination in accordance with Section 10 of the Act. This means the dispute must be resolved by way of a legally binding Party Wall Award. This involves either both parties appointing a single Agreed Surveyor, or each appointing their own Surveyor who will then prepare and serve upon the parties a Party Wall Award.
The Award should contain a detailed Schedule of Condition of your property prior to commencement of any ‘notifiable’ works in order to safeguard your interests in the event damage occurs during or after the works as a direct consequence of the works. The Schedule of Condition will serve as legally binding evidence as to the pre-existing condition of your property, should there later be a dispute over damage caused as a result of the Building Owner undertaking the works being the subject of the Award.
Following service, and assuming no appeal is made against the Award within 14 days of service, the Award becomes legally binding.
If you suspect the Building Owner is carrying out notifiable works without having served prior notice in accordance with the Act (known as 'unlawful works'), you may halt the works by applying to court for an injunction. If an injunction is granted this will restrain the Building Owner from continuing the unlawful works until such time the Act is complied with, although legal advice is recommended before embarking on this course of action.
To appoint a Party Wall Surveyor, please download the correct pro-forma Letter of Appointment below then complete, sign and return it to our registered address: