Essentially, an Adjoining Owner is anyone who is an owner of land, buildings or rooms adjoining those of the building owner, which may include the local authority.
Also, for the purposes of section 6 of the Act a property shall be deemed to be adjoining if it is within the relevant distance even if it is nor actually adjoining. The adjoining property may have a freehold owner, or a leasehold owner all of whom may be an ‘Adjoining Owner’ under the Act.
Where there is more than one owner of the property, or more than one adjoining property, it is your duty to notify all Adjoining Owners.
Adjoining Owners should note that the primary purpose of the Act is to facilitate development. In return for rights to carry out certain works, the Building Owner (the person having the work done) must notify you in advance. He is made legally responsible for putting right any damage caused by carrying out the works, even if the damage is caused by his contractor.
You cannot stop someone from exercising the rights given to them by the Act, but you may be able to influence how and at what times the work is done.
If you do not respond to a notice from a Building Owner concerning work to an existing party structure or an excavation, you will be deemed to be in dispute with them. In this case and in the event of a dispute concerning a new wall at the boundary, if you refuse or fail to concur in the appointment of an agreed surveyor, or to appoint a surveyor of your own, the Building Owner will be able to appoint a second surveyor on your behalf so that the dispute resolution procedure can proceed without your co-operation
It is preferable that the owners reach agreement between themselves wherever possible without the need to activate the dispute resolution procedure.
You do not lose any of your rights by agreeing to the intended works described in the Building Owner's notice. Agreement to the intended works simply signifies that, at this point in time, there is nothing in dispute. If a dispute arises at a later date that cannot be resolved by agreement, say in respect of damage caused, you can then activate the dispute resolution procedure.
Adjoining Owners' rights include the right to:
• ask for security for expenses before you start work under the Act so as to guard against the risk of being left in difficulties if you stop work at an inconvenient stage.
If your neighbour intends to carry out building work which involves one of the following categories; they must notify you in writing before they start work.
If you receive a notice from your neighbour you should reply to it in writing within 14 days of receiving it. You do not need to appoint a professional adviser to respond to the notice on your behalf. You can consent to or disagree with what is proposed.
If you disagree with the proposal, and cannot resolve the matter between yourselves, the procedure for dealing with a dispute Under Section 10 of the Act must be followed.
If you do not respond to a notice about an intended new wall built up to (but not astride) the line of junction, the work can commence after the one month notice period.
If you do not respond, in writing, within 14 days to a notice about an intended new wall built astride the line of junction (a party wall), the Building Owner must build the wall entirely on his own land. The work can commence after the one month notice period.
If you receive a notice about work to an existing party structure, or a notice about excavations within 3 or 6 metres of your foundations, and you have not responded, in writing, within a period of 14 days from receipt of the notice, a dispute is deemed to have arisen. The dispute procedure is resolved in accordance with Section 10 of the Act. If you disagree with the work described in a notice under the Act it may be helpful to explain why.
The Building Owner can then consider your objection and perhaps amend his proposal. Agreement might then be reached, without the need to use the formal dispute resolution procedure.
A person who receives a notice about intended work may:
If, after a period of 14 days from the service of your notice, the person receiving the notice has done nothing, a dispute is deemed to have arisen.
It should be noted that where consent is given, the building owner is not relieved of his obligations under the Act, for example to avoid unnecessary inconvenience or to provide temporary protection for adjacent buildings and property where necessary.
The notice of consent is simply confirmation that, at that time, there is nothing ‘in dispute’. Should a difference arise at a later date (for example in respect of damage caused) the procedure in accordance with the Act, then comes into play.
A person who receives notice about intended work may, within one month, give a counternotice setting out what additional or modified work they would like to be carried out for their own benefit, and accompanied by all necessary particulars.
You should let your neighbour know about your concerns; The Act does give you the right to protect your property. You also have the right to appoint a surveyor to represent you.
If you are worried or are unsure about what to do, you can get in touch with one of our surveyors and we will be delighted to guide you on the process.
The Act contains no enforcement procedures for failure to serve a notice. However, if your neighbour or a builder carrying out work on your neighbour’s behalf starts work, without having first given notice in the proper way, you may seek to stop the work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress. You may wish to take professional or legal advice before commencing such action.