An Adjoining Owner is an owner of land, buildings, storeys or rooms adjoining those of the Building Owner. This normally occurs where there is an adjoining wall between two properties.
For the purposes of Section 6 of the Act, which relates to adjacent excavations, the Adjoining Owners building can be a separate independent structure, located within a distances prescribed by the Act.
If you neighbours are planning to undertake work at their property that fall into the following categories, they may be required to serve notice:
Converting houses into flats
Demolition and re-building of party wall or boundary wall
Underpinning party walls or adjoining walls to a party wall
Cutting into a party wall or ceiling/floor for any purpose, but generally to create pockets for load bearing beams, bearing plates and pad stones
Reducing or increasing the height of the party wall
Inserting or injecting a damp proof course
Removing partitions or chimney breasts from a party wall;
Excavations and foundations within 3 metres and to a greater depth than the foundations of any structure or building belonging to an Adjoining Owner.
Excavations and foundations within 6 metres of an Adjoining Owner’s structure or building that intersects a 45° line drawn from the bottom of the Adjoining Owner’s foundations
Work to some boundary walls, built astride the boundary known as “party fence walls”
New building up to or astride the boundary line.
(this list is not exhaustive)
What do I do If I receive a Party Wall Notice?
If you are an Adjoining Owner and you receive a notice under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, firstly consider yourself fortunate in that your neighbour has done the right thing by engaging the statutory process. This gives you the opportunity to appoint a surveyor to advise you and to influence aspects of the work that may effect your property.
You will have 14 days to carefully consider how to safeguard your interests, but you may respond sooner if you wish. You have three options as follows:
Consent to the Notice and choose not to appoint a surveyor:
If you have no objection to the works and are confident that the risk to your property and enjoyment of the property is minimal, then you may consent to the works. The Building Owner will be able to proceed with their proposed work without the appointment of surveyor/s.
Dissent to the Notice and appoint your own surveyor:
You are entitled to appoint your own surveyor and he/she and the Building Owner’s Surveyor will prepare a Party Wall Award authorising the rights of the Building Owner to proceed with the proposed works, this is what people erroneously refer to as a Party Wall Agreement, it is in fact an award made by the surveyors outlining the rights and obligations of both parties.
Dissent to the Notice and concur in the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor:
You may concur in the appointment of one surveyor (Agreed Surveyor) to represent both parties’ interests and he/she will act impartially to draw up an Award. Once the Award is served, the works may proceed.
My neighbour has offered me a Party Wall Surveyor deal to proceed without engaging the Party Wall etc Act 1996, should I accept?
You may accept a deal from your neighbour to not use the processes of the Act and to allow them to proceed without serving notices, or to consent to notices once served. If you take this course of action however, you may expose yourselves, and your property, to risks that could otherwise be avoided. If you engage with the Act and dissent to the notices, you will get the opportunity to appoint your own surveyor, who will agree the works with your neighbours surveyor, and the methods employed to undertake the works. They will also undertake an inspection of your property to record a schedule of condition of any defects that could later be found attributable to the works. Having a party wall award and schedule of condition to hand will put you in a better position if damage is caused to your property. Surveyors may also be able to make an award for making good or compensation in your favour should damage be caused, and in most cases the FEES (click here) of the party wall surveyors are paid by the building owner undertaking the work.
Another aspect is to consider how the courts may view any deal that has been done to proceed outside of the Act, and the implications if bringing action to court when there is a statutory dispute resolution mechanism in place intended to avoid court action.