The Impact of a Party Wall
You have found your dream property, and then your conveyancer informs you that you have a party wall. So, what happens next?
Back to Basics: What is a Party Wall?
Often, a party wall separates the properties of two adjoining owners, where each owns part and each has certain rights over the wall. It can also be a wall owned entirely by one of the owners but over which the adjoining owner has certain rights. It can be part of the building itself (such as a house wall that is also a boundary wall) or a separate structure (such as a shared wall in a row of terraced houses).
The Law and Party Walls
Party walls are governed by the Party Wall Act 1996 (PWA 1996) which provides a framework for the owners of a shared boundary to carry out works to the party wall. The Act also creates certain rights and obligations for both parties.
The Building Owner
This is the person who wishes to carry out building works to the party wall.
Under the PWA 1996, Building Owners have:
- Obligations to give appropriate notice (depending on the proposed works) to the Adjoining Owners of intended party wall works.
- Certain rights to enter the Adjoining Owner’s land to carry out the party wall works, providing correct prior notice is given.
Usually work must start within 12 months of the notice being given.
The Adjoining Owner
This is usually the owner/occupier whose land adjoins the Building Owner’s land.
The PWA 1996 gives Adjoining Owners:
- A right to raise a dispute in response to the Building Owner’s notice of intended works, triggering a party wall award made by a surveyor.
- The potential to require the Building Owner to incorporate additional works to the adjoining building, such as underpinning, if appropriate.
- The obligation in certain circumstances to contribute to the cost of any works.
However, Adjoining Owners may not prevent the Building Owner from carrying out works that fall within the PWA 1996.
For further practical advice about party walls, contact Becky Ross in the Property Team.