Party walls disputes
Walls and boundaries are important as they separate different premises. There are several types of boundaries such as party walls, boundary wall, retaining wall and building faces.
It is very important to understand the meaning of these boundaries and understand the underlying laws. In this article, a party wall will be reviewed. A party wall is a wall within a building that separates two properties and creates a boundary between them. It is basically a wall that stands in the land of two or more people and is a part of a building. It could also be fenced separating two pieces of lands which means it is on neither of the owners’ land. See our FAQs!
A party wall could also be a wall on an individual’s piece of land that is used to separate the buildings of two or more people. Due to the disputes arising from party walls, it leads to the enactment of an Act under the law of property act, 1925. The party wall act of 1925 stated that each owner of the separated properties has rights to use the party wall. This act was enforced in the year 1997 in Wales and England.
The party wall act provides a legal framework that aids in preventing and resolving disputes arising between property owners of neighbouring properties.
The act guards the neighbouring properties against damage or loss. This act clearly states the liable parties in the case for repair in case of any damages caused to the property. The party wall act does not stand on its own. It comes along with a party wall guide. The party wall guide directs property owners on issues regarding structural alterations, damping proof works, and extensions. Property owners should ensure they clearly understand these issues before acquiring properties.
This information can be accessed via a chartered building surveyor. Understanding the party wall and the encompassing properties are of critical importance when acquiring the title deed for a property.
The party wall Act of 1996 states that a property owner who wishes to execute a certain work on the wall should give 30 days prior notice to very adjoining owner. The Act clearly indicates the conditions under which the notice must be given.
This conditions include; when setting up a new building astride or up to the building, foundations or excavations of 3 or more meters in depth, and also work to existing walls. The works to an existing wall include; demolitions, cutting, rebuilding, and underpinning to a party wall. Under all these circumstances, a notice must be issued to adjoining building owners to avoid rising of party wall disputes.
A property owner who wishes to execute any of the named activities is legally liable for providing the adjoining owners with a written notice prior to the planned works. A notice would be considered ideal if offered two or more months before the commencement of the works. During such situations, it is advisable that one should contact a professionally experiences party wall surveyor .
The role of this surveyor is to assess the merits and possible damages that would result from works performed on a party wall.
There are three kinds of surveyors involved in the party wall agreement process. The first surveyor acts wholly on behalf of the property owner, the second one acts on party wall notices while the third one acts impartially between both the adjoining property owners.
The party wall Act 1996, has so far worked perfectly in prevention and resolution of disputes revolving around the party wall. This is due to a clear outline defined in the act about the conditions and procedures to be followed when executing works on a party wall.
Once an adjoining party wall owner receives and consents to the party wall notice, a party wall award is discussed and agreed upon. A party wall award is a comprehensive document that gives the adjoining owner a go-ahead to commence the construction works involving the party wall. The adjoining owner must strictly operate within the agreed terms of the party wall award.
Failure to which a lawsuit can be filed to solve any arising disputes. A party wall award contains information such as; the description of the work to be undertaken, a timeline of the work, agreed protection measures, access and method statements for the contractor.
Before commencement of any construction works involving a party wall, it is always advisable to ensure that the construction works are legal and within the party wall Act, 1996.