The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, which came into force on 01.07.1997 throughout England & Wales, defines the rights of owners and the duties of their surveyors (in the event of a dispute arising). An owner cannot simply do what he likes with his own part of the wall and yet he can use his neighbour’s part without permission, but not necessarily with his neighbour’s agreement.
The Rights of an Owner
To use the part of a wall belonging to his neighbour almost as if were his own, and to raise on it, into it or thicken it to suit himself. Put very simply, if you intend to carry out building work, which involves any of the following categories;
- Work on an existing wall or structure shared with another property (section 2)
- Building a free standing wall or a wall of a building up to or astride the boundary with a neighbouring property (section 1)
- Excavating near a neighbouring building (section 6)
You must first find out whether that work falls within the act. If it does, you must notify all affected neighbours.
What is a Party Wall?
There are three main types of party wall recognised by the act. They are commonly called;
- The Party Wall
- The Party Fence Wall
- Party Structure
A Party Wall
Forms part of a building and stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two or more different owners or if it separates buildings and it either;
- Stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two or more different owners.
- Stands wholly on one owner’s land, but is used by tow or more owners to separate their buildings.
- Where one person has built the wall in the first place and the other has butted their building up against it without constructing their own wall, only the part of the wall that does the separating is considered a party wall, the sections on either side or above is not considered a party wall.
A (Type A) party wall forms part of a building and stands on lands of different owners, i.e the wall stands astride the boundary. Examples include walls separating terraced or semi-detached houses or a wall that forms the boundary between two gardens, which is referred to as a 'party fence wall'.
A (Type B) party wall stands wholly on one owner's land, but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings. An examples is where a neighbour has a structure, such as a garage, that butts up against a wall that is owned by the other neighbour. Only the part of the wall that does the separating is a party wall with the wall above or to the side not being a party wall.
A Party Structure
Can be a party wall of floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings approached by separate staircases or entrances such as flats.
A Party Fence Wall
Is a wall or fence of a building that stands astride the boundary line between lands of different owners and is used to separate those lands such as a garden wall.
A "party fence wall" is not part of a building. It stands astride the boundary line between lands of different owners and is used to separate those lands. This would include a garden wall but, despite the name, excludes wooden fences, or fences with concrete posts.
Party Wall Fence
Serving of Notices
Different actions need different forms of notice. The three most commonly used types of notice, depending on the state of the boundary or the works proposed are;
- Section 1 - Line of Junction Notice
- Section 3 - Party Structure Notice
- Section 6 - Three /Six Metre Notice
Schedules of Condition
Is then prepared by the appointed surveyors, after first serving the relevant notice on the adjoining owner.
The purpose of the schedules of condition is to record the present state of the repair of a building, structure or premises including gardens and the like before any works are carried out. Then any damage caused by those works can be readily identified.
The schedule of condition protects adjoining owners against building owners and especially their contractors who refuse to admit that anything is their fault. It also protects building owners against adjoining owners who seek to claim for historic defects as soon as works commence.
Is a legally binding document produced by the building owners surveyor and the adjoining owners surveyor, who jointly produce an award setting out all the details of the proposed works and the exact detailed conditions upon which the building owner may execute these detailed works.