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How to Legally Serve a Party Wall Notice

A party wall is a shared wall between two properties, typically between terraced or semi-detached houses. When planning construction or renovation work that affects a party wall, it's legally required to serve a Party Wall Notice to your neighbor under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 in England and Wales. This blog will guide you through the process of legally serving a Party Wall Notice, ensuring compliance with the law and maintaining good neighborly relations.


Understanding the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is designed to prevent and resolve disputes related to party walls, boundary walls, and excavations near neighboring buildings. It provides a framework for property owners planning to undertake certain types of work that could affect their neighbors' properties.


Types of Work Covered by the Act


Work on an Existing Party Wall: This includes cutting into the wall, removing chimney breasts, or making the wall thicker or higher.

Building a New Wall on the Boundary Line: This includes building a new wall or fence astride the boundary.

Excavation Work: Excavations within three or six meters of your neighbor's building, depending on the depth and proximity to the neighbor's foundations.


When to Serve a Party Wall Notice

You must serve a Party Wall Notice if you are planning any work that falls under the categories mentioned above. The notice must be served at least two months before starting work on an existing party wall or one month before work begins for line of junction or excavation works.


Steps to Legally Serve a Party Wall Notice

1. Determine the Need for a Notice

First, identify whether your planned work falls within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. If you are unsure, consult a party wall surveyor or a legal professional to determine if a notice is necessary.


2. Prepare the Notice

The notice must include specific information, and it can be in the form of a standard letter or a pre-printed form. There are different types of notices depending on the nature of the work:


Party Structure Notice: For work on an existing party wall.

Line of Junction Notice: For building a new wall on the boundary.

Notice of Adjacent Excavation: For excavation work near the boundary.


The notice should include:


Your name and address.

The address of the building where the work will be carried out.

A clear description of the proposed work.

The proposed start date of the work.


3. Serve the Notice

The notice must be served to the adjoining owner, which can be done in the following ways:


In Person: Handing the notice directly to the neighbor.

By Post: Sending the notice by registered or recorded delivery.

By Email: If the neighbor has agreed to receive notices this way.

Ensure you keep a record of the notice being served, such as a signed receipt or proof of postage.


4. Wait for a Response

After serving the notice, your neighbor has 14 days to respond. They can:


Consent: If they agree to the proposed work, you can proceed without the need for a party wall agreement.

Dissent and Appoint a Surveyor: If they dissent or do not respond within 14 days, both parties must appoint a party wall surveyor. The two surveyors will then agree on a party wall award (agreement).

Dissent and Agree to Use the Same Surveyor: Both parties can agree to appoint a single surveyor, known as the agreed surveyor, to draw up the party wall award.


5. Preparing the Party Wall Award

If a party wall award is required, the appointed surveyor(s) will prepare a document detailing the work to be carried out, how and when it will be done, and any protective measures to prevent damage to the adjoining property. The award will also include a schedule of condition, recording the current state of the adjoining property.


6. Receiving the Party Wall Award

Once the party wall award is prepared, it will be served to both parties. The award is legally binding, and both parties must adhere to its terms. If either party is dissatisfied with the award, they can appeal to the county court within 14 days of receiving it.


7. Proceeding with the Work

After the award is served and any necessary consent is obtained, you can proceed with the work according to the terms set out in the party wall award. Ensure you follow the agreed-upon methods and timelines to avoid any disputes.


Tips for Serving a Party Wall Notice

Communicate Early: Inform your neighbor about your plans as early as possible to maintain good relations and potentially avoid disputes.

Be Clear and Detailed: Ensure the notice includes all necessary information to prevent misunderstandings.

Consider Professional Help: If you are unsure about any part of the process, consider hiring a party wall surveyor or seeking legal advice.


Common Questions About Party Wall Notices


Do I Always Need a Party Wall Notice?

Not all building work requires a Party Wall Notice. Minor works that do not affect the party wall, boundary, or neighboring foundations may not need a notice. However, if in doubt, it is always best to consult a professional.


What Happens if I Don’t Serve a Notice?

Failing to serve a Party Wall Notice when required can lead to legal disputes and potential injunctions stopping your work. It is essential to comply with the Act to avoid legal and financial consequences.


Can My Neighbor Refuse the Work?

Your neighbor cannot stop you from carrying out legal and necessary work on your property. However, they can dissent to the notice, which will require the appointment of surveyors to agree on the work's terms and conditions.


Serving a Party Wall Notice is a legal requirement for certain types of building work that affects a shared wall or boundary. By understanding the process and following the correct steps, you can ensure compliance with the Party Wall, etc. Act 1996, prevent disputes, and maintain good relations with your neighbors. Whether you choose to handle the process yourself or seek professional assistance, clear communication and adherence to legal requirements are key to a successful and hassle-free project.

For more information you can call Express Party Wall Surveyor at 020 3633 0823 or contact us 

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