Party Wall etc. Act 1996
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affectively regulates certain works that are to be undertaken between neighbouring properties. The Act provides a dispute resolution mechanism to resolve technical disputes between owners that may arise in relation to such work. The aim of the Act is to provide a cost effective way of bringing disputes to a conclusion, without redress to expensive court action. Competent and professional party wall surveyors will aim to conclude disputes efficiently, and in a decisive, cost effective, and equitable way. The interests of both parties that share an adjoining wall or adjacent structure are considered, and a party wall award is agreed by the surveyors to settle the dispute. This will outline how the building owner can progress the works, with the minimum of disruption and inconvenience experienced by the adjoining owner/s. The award generally includes a Schedule of Condition which is agreed between the two surveyors and provides a record of the condition of the adjoining owners property prior to the commencement of works. This record may later be used to determine if defects are preexisting or attributable to the works, and as such can prevent unnecessary disagreements persisting. If damage is caused to the adjoining owners property, the building owner is responsible for making good, a payment in lieu of making good, or compensation. The appointed surveyors can make an award to settle disputes over damage to document the action or payment required.
The full text of the party wall act can be found at the following location:
It should be understood that there are many years of case law derived from the courts that provide further guidance for practitioners, in addition to the wording of the Act. Professional party wall surveyors will give consideration to such things when giving advice, making awards, and serving notices.
An explanatory booklet, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, can be downloaded by clicking the following thumbnail:
PARTY WALL SURVEYOR FEES
As a general rule, the fees of surveyors dealing with party wall disputes are paid by the party that is carrying out the work. This is because the fees are allocated to the party that benefits from the work, and usually the benefit is in favour of the building owner only. In certain circumstances, for example where there is a want of repair to a party structure, fees may also be allocated to the adjoining owner. This follows common law principles, but is also reflected in Section 11 of the Act, that deals with expenses and provides more detail for reference.
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