The Party Wall etc Act 1996

the party wall etc actA Guide to the Party Wall etc Act 1996

In 1997 the Government introduced party wall legislation across the whole of England & Wales in the form of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. The Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS) was established out of a national need for education and support for surveyors but also to enhance awareness and provide advice and guidance to the public.

Determining if a building project is within the scope of the Act can be complex and failure to correctly identify the status of your project could result in the building works being unlawful. The FPWS always recommend that you seek professional advice. In addition, it has produced a useful Guide to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

If you’re in need of professional advice, contact 01635 579208.

Do I need a Party Wall Surveyor?

You may need a Party Wall Surveyor if you intend to carry out work which involves the following:

– Work on an existing wall, ceiling or floor structure shared with another property

– Building on or at the boundary with another property

– Excavating near a neighbouring building or structure.

If you’re planning any of the above, you must call a Party Wall Surveyor to find out whether the work falls within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

If you do not comply with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 by serving the necessary notices and obtaining the necessary agreement or resolving matters by way of an award, your building works could be delayed, declared unlawful, possibly incurring legal claims and costs against you.

In order to be clear if your planned work comes within the Act, you should seek professional advice from an experienced Party Wall Surveyor.

Call Chartered Surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 for guidance on the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 or to enlist our services as a Party Wall Surveyor. 

We provide Party Wall surveying and advice in compliance with The Party Wall etc. Act 1996.  We act on behalf of building owners and adjoining owners, as well as agreed surveyors for both parties.

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the disputes that arise under Section 3 and Section 4 of the Party Wall Act.

As already established in Section 3 and Section 4 of the Party Wall Act, Section 5 deals with disputes that arise when a party structure notice or a counter notice has been served.

Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act begins by setting out a time frame period by which an owner who is in receipt of a served notice must respond. This period is 14 days, and if the owner does not consent within this period, then a dispute is deemed to have arisen.

This section is an extremely small section of the Act and it simply consists of a single sentence. Although it does not state it within Section 5 of the Party Wall etc. Act, if a dispute is deemed to have arisen during or after that 14-day period then the dispute would be dealt with under Section 10 of the Party Wall Act.

A time period is necessary to allow a building owner to proceed with the party wall process, rather than be scuppered at the first hurdle, where an adjoining owner may decide to ignore the notice.

Despite the 14-day period, even if a decent is deemed to have arisen, owners can still agree at any time during the party wall process to consent to the works. If written consent is given, then there is no need to continue to pursue a dispute process.

If you require Party Wall advice, then contact us 01635 579208. We are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd provides professional, independent advice.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. ActSection 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the serving of counter notices.

Such a notice might be triggered where an adjoining owner has received a party structure notice from a building owner but does not agree with the proposals put forward within that notice.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act allows an adjoining owner to serve upon a building owner a counter notice giving details of their requirements.

What can a Counter Notice request?

Paragraph 1a allows that adjoining owners may ask, where reasonably required, for a building owner to include such elements as chimney copings, breasts, jams or flues. It should be noted that this work would be done at the convenience of the adjoining owner.

Furthermore, an adjoining owner could serve a counter notice in respect of special foundations which the adjoining owner would consent under section point 7 of the act. He may request that the special foundations be placed at a greater depth than that proposed by the building owner or be constructed of sufficient strength to bear the load to be carried by columns of any intended building of the adjoining owner. Or both.

Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 – Issuing a Counter Notice

If an adjoining owner decides to issue a counter notice, the counter notice should specify the works required, and should be accompanied by plans, sections and particulars of those works. It should also be served within a period of one month, beginning on the day on which the building owners party structure notice was served.

If a building owner receives a counter notice he should comply with the requirements of the notice, unless the works described within the counter notice would be injurious to him, cause unnecessary convenience to him or cause unnecessary delay in the execution of works pursuant to the party structure notice.

Where an adjoining owner issues a counter notice it would be dealt with by the surveyors as a dispute will deemed to have arisen and owners can not determine a dispute themselves but it is the responsibility of the adjoining owner to serve the notice, and not the surveyor, unless the surveyor has been given the authority to do so. In practise it is unusual for counter notices to be served, however, the Act does allow for counter notices to be served and there are occasions where it is necessary to issue a counter notice.

Need advice?

If you have any Party Wall concerns or feel that a counter notice needs to be served under Section 4 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, then please call us for advise on 01635 579208.

RMA Surveyors are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act

Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 deals with the requirements for issuing a Party Structure Notice.

Before a building owner can exercise any right conferred to him under Section 2 of the Party Wall Act he should serve on an adjoining owner a Party Structure Notice stating his intentions.

What should a Party Structure Notice contain?

A party structure notice should be served to the adjoining owner 2 calendar months before the works are due to begin. Although there is no express requirement within this section to include a date on the notice it is implied by the Act’s stipulation of the notice period. The notice will cease to be effective if the works in which it relates do not begin within 12 months, beginning with the day of which the notice was served and if the work is not undertaken with due diligence.

A Party Structure Notice should include the name and address of the building owner, as well as the particulars and description of the proposed works. In cases where the building owner is seeking to construct special foundations, then plans, sections and details of these foundations, together with structural engineer calculations of the loads to be carried, should also be included. The notice should also include the date on which proposed works are due to commence.

Serving Notice

Notices under Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act pertain only to Section 2 of the Act. It is deemed by party wall professionals that the format of notices under this section should also be applied for notices of adjacent excavation as well as line of junction notices.

If a notice is not served then the Act is not invoked, nor are the rights conferred under the Act. Notice can be issued by anyone, although in our experience it can be easy for the lay person to make a mistake on a notice which can invalidate it. We advise clients that the cost is minimal and it is usually best to allow us to issue valid notice/s on their behalf. If an invalid notice is served there is a possibility that notice will need to reissued leading to inevitable delays. It should be noted that Party Wall Notices are legal documents.

When a notice is served by another party on behalf of the building owner it should be made clear that this is the case on the notice. The person serving notice should have written authority to do so. A party wall surveyor serving notice is acting as an agent at this stage, not a party wall surveyor. Party Wall Surveyors can only be appointed as a Party Wall Surveyor once a notice has been served and a dispute has arisen. Appointment of Surveyors is covered under Section 10 of the Act.

Agreement to a notice can be given at any time, even if the process of dispute has commenced. An adjoining owners consent to any notice must be in writing. Party wall notices become legally binding documents and any consent given needs to be documentable. This prevents any potential misunderstandings once works are underway.

If you require advice regarding Section 3 of the Party Wall etc. Act or indeed any Party Wall matter, contact us on 01635 579208.