The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 amendment

Party Wall etc Act 1996On April 06 2016, the first amendment to The Party Wall etc. Act came into force, since it was enacted in 1996.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (Electronic Communications) Order 2016 was approved by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 10th March 2016.

What Amendment has been made to the Party Wall etc. Act?

The Order amends section 15 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, which is in relation to the service of notices. Previously legislation allowed for notices and documents to be served or given only in person or by post. This amendment will mean that notices and documents pursuant to the provisions of the Act may be achieved by electronic communications, provided that the intended recipient has stated a willingness to receive them by those means.

The new section 15 (1a&c) states that ‘a notice or other document required or authorised to be served under this Act may also be served on a person (“the recipient”) by means of an electronic communication, but only if— (a) the recipient has stated a willingness to receive the notice or document by means of an electronic communication; and (c) the notice or document was transmitted to an electronic address specified by the recipient.’

A Party Wall usually separates buildings belonging to different owners, but could include garden walls built astride a boundary (known as party fence walls). The Act is designed to avoid and minimise disputes. It makes sure property owners notify adjoining owners in advance of proposed works. It’s important to remember that notice should be served even if works are being undertaken only to your side of a wall.

If you need advice on Party Wall matters, please contact RMA Surveyors.  We are members of the RICS and provide 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. Call us on 01635 579208 or complete the enquiry form.

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.

Need a Party Wall Award?

party wallHaving recently undertaken Party Wall Award Notices in Windsor, Newbury and Leckhampstead. RMA Surveyors Ltd are experienced in providing advice in compliance with The Party Wall Act 1996, throughout Berkshire and the South-East.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

The Act is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval. It provides a mechanism for preventing and resolving disputes relating to building work near or on a shared property boundary, or ‘party wall’.

If you require advice on a Party Wall, contact us on 01635 579 208.

For further reading on Party Walls visit the RICS information page.

A Party Wall Matter

Party Wall workWe recently acted as a Party Wall Surveyor for an adjoining owner, in Newbury, Berkshire.

The works being undertaken by the next door neighbour included an extension to the rear of the building and some cutting in and weathering of the Party Wall.

The owner that we acted for was concerned that their second floor flat may be affected by the works. We checked that the Party Wall notice that had been issued was valid, contacted the building owners surveyor and liaised with them to confirm the method and approach to which works affecting the Party Wall should be undertaken. In addition we took a schedule of condition of the property prior to the works commencing.

We have now issued an Award and works are underway.  Our final piece of involvement should be to attend site once works have been completed to ensure they have been undertaken satisfactorily and have not affected our appointing owner’s property.

If you have a Party Wall enquiry or have been served with Notice under the Party Wall Act, please contact us on 01635 579208 or by using the contact form. We will be happy to act on your behalf.

Multiple Party Wall Awards

party wallWe undertook an instruction as Party Wall Surveyor to act on behalf of a building owner who was developing a site in Newbury.

The site itself was bounded by some residential properties at the front and a commercial property to the rear. The residential property at the front also had a retail unit on the ground floor.

To properly undertake the instruction notice was required to be served to all adjoining owners with an interest in the property. This included the freeholder of the residential units, the leaseholder of the retail unit and the freeholder of the commercial unit to the rear. Fortunately, the leaseholder and the freeholder of the commercial unit were the same party.

All parties dissented to works and required the appointment of their own surveyor to act on their behalf. In actuality, one of the adjoining owner’s surveyors acted on behalf of two parties, with a second adjoining owner acting on behalf of the other party.

Three separate Party Wall Awards were required to be issued. In order to minimise the cost to our appointing owner who would be responsible for all fees, we made assessment of adjoining owner’s fees and agreed a reasonable rate. We also organised to meet all surveyors out on site on the same day, to minimise time on site while discussing the critical issues that needed to form the basis of the Party Wall Award.

Without our professional input, the developer may have found difficulty in identifying the correct parties to serve the notice on, issue applicable notices, liaise with adjoining owner’s surveyors and form a Party Wall Agreement.

It is often thought by building owners that the Party Wall process is easily managed by themselves but we have often found that parties that have issued notice have issued invalid notice, which can delay works or can become confounded by the detail surrounding the Party Wall Act and can quickly find themselves out of their depth when matters become more complex.

If you have any Party Wall issues, please contact us for advice on 01635 579208 or complete the form below and we’ll get in touch.

Contact Us

Fill in the below form to contact us today.
  • If you are requesting a survey quotation please provide the address and postcode of the property.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Clear Party Wall Explanation

Party WallWe recently were instructed to act as a building owner’s Party Wall surveyor near Reading. On receiving the plans from the building owner’s architect, we were able to make a full assessment of the types of notices required and duly issued them to the adjoining owners.

On issuing the notices we also provided a cover letter explaining, in less formal terms, the implications of the works required, how these would affect the adjoining owners, as well as providing a full and clear description of the Party Wall process. In doing so we demonstrated to the adjoining owners exactly what was involved and what their options were. The adjoining owners were content with the explanation.

The clear and concise way in which we dealt with issuing notices meant that the adjoining owners were satisfied that they understood what was involved. As a result, they consented to the works without a Party Wall Award needing to be in place prior to commencement. This in turn saved our client (the building owner) money in terms of Party Wall Surveyor fees.

We strongly believe that Party Wall issues should be dealt with in a professional and transparent manner and in accordance with spirit of the Party Wall Award Etc. Act 1986.

It is our duty as Party Wall surveyors to provide clear and concise advice and to minimise accruing costs to the owners responsible for paying the fees.

If you require advice on a Party Wall issue, please contact us to discuss it further or complete the form below and we’ll get in touch.

Contact Us

Fill in the below form to contact us today.
  • If you are requesting a survey quotation please provide the address and postcode of the property.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How do you know if the Party Wall Act etc 1996 applies to works?

New structure adjoining older structureIf you are planning on undertaking building works the Party Wall etc Act 1996 may apply. If you do not know of a requirement to serve or respond to notices you are not alone and we can help.

Many people are unaware of their obligations and rights that the Party Wall Act provides. Building works that proceed without complying with the Act can lead to significant difficulties, legal action, and a breakdown in neighbourly relations. Iit is not just building works directly affecting a party wall or boundary wall that may require action under the Act.

A Building Owner may decide to build a permanent structure on his own land within 6 meters of a neighboring party structure, build near or on a boundary or cut into or otherwise alter an existing party wall. In all these cases the Party Wall Act can apply. The Act allows for a Building owner to progress with works whilst protecting the an Adjoining Owners’ interests.

Where an Adjoining owner has concerns regarding a neighbors’ proposals they can appoint an independent party wall surveyor to provide help and explain the implications and procedures of the Act.

The requirements of the act stipulate that where there is a disagreement, a Party wall surveyor can step in to guide the process according to a defined protocol. Anyone can act as a Party Wall Surveyor. However a surveyor should ideally be experienced in construction,  have read, understood and be able to operate within the Act, interpret technical details, drawings and ultimately work diplomatically to provide swift resolution.