Disputes Regarding Party Walls: A Concise Guide

The United Kingdom has a population of little over 66 million people living on a land mass that is 7.1 times smaller than California, which has a population of roughly 40 million. Detached homes in the United Kingdom are very expensive, particularly in the south of the country.

As a result, a significant number of people make their homes in residences that are either terraced or semi-detached. A “party wall” is the name given to the wall or walls that separate two or more properties that share other borders, such as fences. In the event that a disagreement between neighbours over construction takes place, party walls might result in contentious real estate litigation that is both stressful and expensive.

Building work can be carried out by adjacent neighbours who share a boundary thanks to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (PWA 1996), which established a legal framework for the process. In accordance with the provisions of the PWA 1996, all property owners with adjacent properties are required to be notified of any planned improvements. The kind of notice that is necessary is determined by the anticipated construction work.

Party Wall Agreement Birmingham

The prerequisite to provide advance notice

If you intend to do maintenance or renovations on an existing party wall, you are required to provide all adjacent property owners notice at least two months in advance. If you get formal permission from the other owners before beginning the work, then you won’t need to worry about this requirement.

When it comes to erecting a new party wall or fence, regardless of whether it is on your land or the boundary, a notice of one month is required to be given to the adjoining property owner. Even written consent from adjacent property owners does not relieve one of the responsibility to provide notice.

In the event that you intend to build or excavate within three or six metres of a neighbouring party wall, you are required to give one month’s notice. This statutory obligation can not be waived or avoided by obtaining prior written approval from surrounding property owners.

Responses to a PWA 1996 notice

Within the next 14 days, the responders have to let you know in writing whether or not they are pleased with the prospect of your works continuing. They have one month from the day they received your notice to serve a counter-notice regarding any works that will be done on an existing party wall. Your notice was received on the date that you specified.

A counter notice may specify the elements that the adjoining owner or owners require you to include in any planned works, such as the incorporation of chimney breasts, piers, and any other structures that the adjoining owner may reasonably require. For example, the inclusion of any planned works may include chimney breasts. Plans and/or specifics of the work that is being sought could be part of the counter notice that is being sent.

According to the PWA 1996, you have a deadline of 14 days to respond to the counter notice by stating your consent and complying with the stipulations of the counter notice, unless doing so would be “injurious” to you or cause unneeded inconvenience or delays to the works. In this case, you are exempt from these requirements.

What happens if the assent to the notice or the counter notice is not granted, or if there is no reply to be expected?

If the assent to your notice is refused by one or more adjoining property owners or if you refuse to consent to a counter notice, then a dispute will occur if the intended works involve constructing a new wall across a boundary, excavating, or modifying an existing party wall. If you are not granted authorization for the construction of a new party wall or fence, you will be required to construct the structure solely on your own property.

The same conclusions will be reached in the event that a response is not provided in response to the notice or counter notice.


Resolution of conflicts in accordance with the PWA 1996

In section 10 of the Party Wall Act of 1996 (PWA), a framework for the resolution of party wall disputes is outlined. The resolution of a disagreement can be broken down into two stages:

  1. a) The selection of party wall surveyors, and b) The decision-making process leading to an award

You and your neighbour or neighbours can come to an agreement to jointly choose a party wall surveyor. Alternatively, each party can choose their own surveyor, who will then choose an independent surveyor to whom they can refer conflicts.

The party wall examiner’s rulings is limited to deciding on the parties’ dispute regarding what works the management company is allowed to out and presenting renumeration and costs (as appropriate) to deal with losses and inconveniences caused by those works. Additionally, the party wall realtor’s claim is limited to deciding on the parties’ dispute regarding what works the building owner is permitted to carry out. They are unable to take part in any other property litigation problems, such as those concerning the location of the boundary lines.

The decision of the surveyor, also known as an award, will explain some aspects, such as the scope of the work that has to be done, when and how the work should be done, the building of scaffolding, and access rights to the property, among other things. Even though it is not required by the PWA 1996, the surveyor will also report on the state of the neighbouring owner’s property before the improvements begin, and they will accompany their comments with images. This will ensure that a record is kept, upon which it will be possible to rely in the event that any harm occurs while the operations are being carried out.

An award is legally binding and conclusive; nevertheless, there is a possibility of appealing the decision to the County Court. Within 14 calendar days of obtaining the award, the appeal’s notification must be submitted.

Assistance from attorneys in contested property disputes

Property disputes are something that should be avoided at all costs. If you have a competent attorney representing you, they will do all in their power to settle disagreements through alternate methods of conflict resolution, such as mediation. This will ensure that your best interests are safeguarded.


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