Building Owners, within the meaning of the Act are owners of a property where proposed works fall under the remit of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
If you intend to carry out any of the works which fall under the remit of the Party Wall Act, you must inform all Adjoining Owners who will be affected by your building works.
You must not even cut into your own side of the wall without telling the Adjoining Owners of your intentions.
The purpose of this legal framework is to ensure the adjoining owners and their property is protected during the building works and no unnecessary inconvenience is caused to them during the development stage.
The affected neighbours cannot stop you from exercising your rights but if you start work without having first given notice in to the adjoining owners in the way required under the Act, Adjoining Owners may seek to stop your work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress. They may be able to influence and have a say in how the works may be conducted and timing of the works.
You inform the adjoining owner or owners in writing by giving them a letter known as Party Wall Notice.
It is obviously best to discuss your planned work fully with the Adjoining Owners before you (or your professional adviser on your behalf) give notice, in writing, about what you plan to do. If you have already ironed out possible snags with your neighbours, this should mean that they will readily give consent in response to your notice.
You do not need to appoint a professional adviser to give the notice on your behalf, however if you do you should satisfy yourself as to the experience and professional qualifications of your adviser.
Whilst there is no official form for giving notice under the Act, your notice will need to include the following details:
It is helpful to include plans, and you must include foundations details and sections where excavation works are proposed by you.
The notice should be dated and it is advisable to include a clear statement that it is a notice under the provisions of the Act.
You may give the notice to the Adjoining Owner(s)
If you do not know the name of the owner and/or the property is rented out you may address the notice to "The Owner", and add the address of the premises.
You can deliver it to a person on the premises, or, if the neighbouring property is empty, fix it to a conspicuous part of the premises.
Different works which fall under the remit of the have different requirements.
The Adjoining Owner may agree to allow works to start earlier but is not obliged to even when agreement on the works is reached.
The notice is only valid for a year, so do not serve it too long before you wish to start.
A person who receives a notice about intended work
A person who receives notice about intended work may, within one month, give a counternotice setting out what additional or modified work he would like to be carried out for his own benefit, and accompanied by all necessary particulars.
A person who receives a notice, and intends to give a counter-notice, should however let the Building Owner know within 14 days.
If you receive a counter-notice you must respond to it within 14 days otherwise a dispute is deemed to have arisen.
The best way of settling any point of difference is by friendly discussion with your neighbour. Agreements should always be put in writing.
If you cannot reach agreement with the Adjoining Owners, the next best thing is to agree with them on appointing what the Act calls an “Agreed Surveyor” to draw up an “Award”.
In all cases, surveyors appointed or selected under the dispute resolution procedure of the Act should always consider the interests and rights of both owners and draw up an award impartially.
The surveyor must be a person agreed between the owners to act. Alternatively, each owner can appoint a surveyor to draw up the award together. The two appointed surveyors will select a third surveyor (who would be called in only if the two appointed surveyors cannot agree or either of the owners or either surveyor calls upon the third surveyor to make an award).
Their duty is to resolve matters in dispute in a fair and practical way. Where separate surveyors are appointed by each owner, the surveyors must liaise with their appointing owners and put forward the respective owners’ preferred outcome.
However, beyond that the surveyors do not act as representatives for the respective owners. They must always act consistently with the terms of the Act to reach a fair and impartial award.