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 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.

Building Work to a Party Wall

Are you Planning Building Work to a Party Wall?

Are you planning building work to a party wall or structure that you share with your neighbour? Is your neighbour undertaking building work that will affect your property?

Building Work to a Party Wall Can Be a Matter For the Courts

If you are planning building work or your neighbour is proposing work that affects a party wall or party structure then there is a legal requirement to meet the provisions of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.  If your property is in England or Wales, this legislation must be followed. The law does not apply in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

What Is a Party Wall?

A Party Wall can be defined many ways. Principally it is a wall that sits across the boundary between two or more properties, such as the dividing wall between adjoining houses. It could also be the dividing floor between flats.

The Act also protects structures that stands completely on one owner’s land. Sometimes this can be astride the line of junction and can be used by both owners. i.e. Where one owner has built a wall and the adjoining owner has built up against it enclosing the structure. In that particular example only part of that wall might be considered a ‘party wall’.

Properties that are completely independent of one another can also be subject to the Act. If a building owner is planning to undertake excavations up to 6 metres from an adjoining owners structure there may also be a requirement to adhere to the Act.

A ‘party fence wall’ is a wall that does not form part of a building and stands on land belonging to different owners. This could be a garden wall, but does not include a timber fence.

There are many instances where the Party Wall Act may or may not be relevant. For this reason we always recommend it is assessed by a professional to assist, who both knows the workings of the Act and has technical construction expertise.

Does the Party Wall Act Apply To Me?

Providing the structure or structures in question meets the definitions within the Party Wall Act there is ikely to be a requirement that works need to be agreed with the adjoining owner. Simple works, such as installing shelves, replacing electrical sockets or wiring, does not require an agreement. But you should only do certain building work to a party wall or party structure once the adjoining owner or owners have been formally notified in writing and agreed the works in advance of works proceeding. Examples of notifiable party wall work might include ork includes:

  • Cutting into a wall to take the weight of a beam or insert a flashing.
  • Inserting a damp proof course.
  • Demolition, reconstruction or underpinning a party wall.

If you’re planning to undertake excavations there are some comprehensive requirements defined within the Party Wall Act, that need to be properly understood to determine whether the Act applies.

When Does Party Wall Notice Need To Be Served?

If you are planning to undertake building work to a Party Wall then we suggest you inform your neighbour in good time. This is the most critical step and can often prevent unnecessary and costly dispute later on. The purpose of the Act is to avoid disputes arising by making sure owners are aware and agree the Party Wall works.

Where applicable you must notify your neighbour in writing before building work to a party wall begins. There is a minimum period for this notice to be served before building works affecting the party wall or structure can commence. If there is more than one person with an interest in the property (i.e. Leaseholders and Freeholders. Again these are clearly defined in the Act) you must notify all of them. If there are multiple properties affected they must all be notified.

The Act is specific about the requirements of issuing notice/s. It is very important that valid notice or notices are served. If notices are not valid they will need to be served again correctly and this will reset the minimum period.

What Happens If An Adjoining Owner Does Not Agree to Party Wall Works?

If an adjoining owner does not agree to works then a dispute is deemed to have arisen. Parties in dispute are not able to act as a surveyor for themselves . They need to appoint someone who can act independently. Owners may agree to appoint a single ‘agreed surveyor’, or they can each appoint their own surveyor to act upon their behalves. The expert or experts will agree the parameters of how the works should be carried out and will serve a ‘party wall award’ which will stipulate how works affecting the party structure will be completed.

The award usually contains a schedule of condition of the affected elements of the adjoining owner’s property before work begin. This provides an accurate record of the condition of the building prior to works so damage (if any) can be properly defined after works have been completed.

RMA Surveyors are Chartered Building Surveyors, Members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. We are experts in party wall matters. If you need advice in relation to the Party Wall Act contact us for clear and reliable advise.

Party Wall Notice

Being unaware of a duty to serve Party Wall Notice under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is not a defence. Some people do not factor in the costs of compliance with The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 before they commence works. Some choose to ignore the legislation, in the belief they are saving themselves time and money. This incorrect course of action leads to delays to their project, neighbourly dispute, possible court action and associated costs.

Party Wall Notice will prevent court action

The Requirement For Party Wall Notice

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 requires Building Owners to serve relevant party wall notice to Adjoining Owners up to 2 months before notifiable works commence. When party wall notice is not served and it can cause friction between neighbours. In the worst case scenario where works have begun Adjoining Owners can apply to the Court and gain an injunction against the works. There are upfront costs for doing this, which are usually recoverable from a Building Owner. What Building Owners can also overlook by neglecting to serve notice is that certain rights granted by the Act are also not invoked (such as access in their neighbour’s land, to undertake notifiable works).

In many cases serving party wall notice is simple. By notifying a neighbour that works are going ahead there is less likelihood of a dispute occurring. Issuing notice/s with a polite letter explaining what the works are is far cheaper and easier than a court injunction and costs, then living with the resulting bad feeling.

Ignorance Is No Defence

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is now well established legislation. There is no good reason to ignore it. The courts will invariably find against anyone who does, either wilfully or through genuine ignorance. The cost of not serving a valid party wall notice may prove to be the costliest oversight of the whole project. The adage of Ignorantia iuris nocet applies. Not knowing the law is harmful.

We Can Help

If you are having works undertaken to your property that is likely to affect your neighbour’s property contact RMA Surveyors Ltd and we will be pleased to assist you serving the correct notice to avoid future and costly disputes. RMA Surveyors Ltd are members of the RICS. Please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Defect Specific Reports

Specific DefectsIn addition to property surveys, RMA Surveyors Ltd undertake Defect Specific Reports. Each written report provides a clear, comprehensive and professional opinion regarding a particular problem (or ‘defect’) within a building.

In recent months, RMA Surveyors Ltd have visited a property in Thatcham to inspect a sagging roof, a site in Didcot to investigate cracking and building movement and a property in Hungerford to assess a damp issue.

Defect specific investigations and reports encapsulate the specific materials, construction and associated issues surrounding a specific building defect. Reports can be provided in a formal written report or in a letter or email format depending on the client’s requirements.

Specification for reinstatement and an estimate for repair costs can also be included.

If you have a concern regarding your property, get in touch for advice. Call us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd are members of and are regulated by the governing body RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). As such, any client can be guaranteed a high professional standard of inspection and report.

Building Survey vs Homebuyer Report

House SearchBased in Berkshire, RMA Surveyors Ltd have recently surveyed properties in Newbury, Reading, Wokingham and Windsor.

When making an initial enquiry for a survey on a property, we are often asked what the difference is between a Homebuyer Report and a Building Survey. Our simple response is that while both involve a survey of the property, a Homebuyer Report details all the essential elements of a building but goes into less detail than a Building Survey.

If you would like to read more about the details of each report, take a look at our Property Surveys page.

As chartered surveyors, RMA Surveyors Ltd always provides professional advice and will recommend which type of survey best suits the proposed property. By analysing the age, type (e.g. semi-detached or bungalow) and whether there are any extensions to the property, we can determine which survey would best outline the condition of the building.

If you are unsure which type of survey would be most suitable for the type of property that you are intending to purchase, please contact us and we shall be happy to discuss this with you.

For a Homebuyer Report or Building Survey quote, please call RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

Commercial Building Survey

Steel clad roofRMA Surveyors Ltd recently undertook a commercial building survey of an office unit located in Kingsclere Business Park, nr Newbury.

Part of our remit was to inspect the roof, which was a low pitched profile, steel clad roof that could not be easily accessed from ground level. We organised for a lift access platform to be hired and meet us out on site to undertake this part of the inspection.

We advised the client in advance that this would be necessary and it would be worthwhile investigating the condition of the roof covering given that it was likely to be original to the property, which was constructed in the 1980s.

We discovered that the protective paint to the roof covering was rusting in places and that one of the internal gutters was blocked. Both of these items could be potentially costly to rectify, involving the requirement for scaffolding to be employed to safely access these elements.

There was no way to determine this prior to our inspection and our client would have been in a strong position to renegotiate the terms of sale taking into account the defects noted.

If you have a commercial property that you are considering purchasing or leasing, please contact us for advice and a free, no obligation quote.

Japanese Knotweed with BBC Berkshire

PK Show BBC Berkshire

Richard Mountain owner of RMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury was invited to talk live on the BBC Radio Berkshire show – Phil Kennedy on 19th November 2014.

As a Chartered Surveyor, Richard has had experience in finding japanese knotweed when undertaking building surveys.

He was asked to comment on the government news which states that people could be fined or receive anti-social behaviour orders (asbos) should they fail to control the spread of invasive non-native plants, such as japanese knotweed.

Listen to Richard: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02bkvjb (skip forward to 1:22).

As reported in The Independent: ‘The Government has named Japanese knotweed as one of the “non-native” plants which “have the ability to spread and pose serious threats to biodiversity, the economy and human health”.

As a result, new rules have been introduced in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 that could see people and organisations served with notices for “not controlling Japanese knotweed [when they] could be reasonably expected to do so”.

“Failure to act” is defined specifically as a form of anti-social “conduct”, according to a Home Office document, and individuals could be fined up to £2,500. Companies who allow the weed to get out of control could face a fine up to £20,000.’

Read the Home Office document.

If you would like advice from a Chartered Surveyor, please contact RMA Surveyors Ltd on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

Dilapidations Instruction in Newbury

DilapidationsWe have recently been instructed to undertake a terminal Schedule of Dilapidations for a commercial building in a prominent location in Newbury, Berkshire.

Our instruction is to serve a costed schedule of dilapidations on the lessee, in order that the Landlord can recoup any costs in relation to breaches of the lease. The instruction is complicated by the fact that the Landlords lessee has long since vacated the premises and sub-let the premises to a sub-lessee.

If your lease is coming to an end and you are either a Landlord requiring a schedule of condition to be compiled, or a Tenant who has been served with a terminal schedule of condition, please contact us as we will be pleased to assist.

Traditional Building Pitfalls

ricsRMA Surveyors Ltd, Newbury have been reading an interesting discussion on RICS regarding the care and repair work of Victorian and Edwardian age buildings and the pitfalls often made that result in ‘inherent defects’ in later life.

RMA Surveyors Ltd are a proud member of RICS, with experience in dealing with traditional buildings and period properties. If you’re looking for advice from a local, trusted chartered surveyor in Berkshire, please call us or complete the form with your query.

Read the full article or see the snapshot below:

The top 10 inappropriate works commonly carried out on traditional buildings

  1. Replacing original good quality sash windows with inappropriate modern aluminium or PVC-U casements and stripping out original period doors.
  2. Unnecessarily injecting chemical damp-proof courses (or injecting them incompetently), and re-plastering or rendering main walls with cement-based materials rather than traditional lime, thereby  trapping damp in the walls.
  3. Encouraging damp, rot and beetle infestation by blocking ventilation to floors and roofs, and by allowing high ground levels (such as flower beds) to build up against external walls.
  4. Removal of chimney breasts or load-bearing internal spine walls without providing adequate support to the remaining masonry above.
  5. Neglecting badly eroded mortar joints to external masonry, allowing damp to penetrate and frost damage to occur.
  6. Re-pointing walls with cement mortar that prevents walls from ‘breathing’, and re-pointing in visually dominant ‘show off’ styles (such as protruding ‘weatherstruck’ pointing).
  7. Botched repairs to flashings to stacks and roofs with short-life materials such as self-adhesive tapes or mortar fillets.
  8. Failure to provide enhanced structural support to roof structures where original lightweight slate coverings have been replaced with heavier concrete tiles.
  9. Not lining old flues before lighting fires or using appliances, and failing to cap and ventilate disused flues.
  10.  Weakening floor joists with excessive cutting for cable and pipe runs.

RICS members have a pivotal role to play in both these areas to ensure that the future of our important stock of traditional buildings does not continue to be carelessly endangered.