Q – I want to repair my garden wall, do I need to comply with the Party Wall Act 1996?
The Party Wall Act 1996 is a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
A building owner proposing to start work covered by The Party Wall Act 1996 (‘PWA 1996’) must (in most scenarios) give the adjoining owners Notice of their intentions.
In this blog we use a example to consider the Party Wall Act 1996
Scenario: You have a garden wall in desperate need of repair, the wall is a party fence wall and your intention is to rebuild the wall to the same style (as it was in its former glory).
What is a ‘party fence wall? A wall is a party fence wall if it stands astride the boundary line between you and your neighbour (land of different owners) and is used to separate the adjoining land.
The best way to approach the works is to look at; (1) Do you have the right under the Act to do the works; and (2) Are there any requirements of the Act that need to be complied with (e.g. Notices).
Do you have the right to build (Section 2 PWA 1996)?
Section 2 of the PWA 1996 sets out works that building owners have the right to carry out (you can see this section here).
In relation to this scenario – a building owner has the right to raise a party fence wall, or to raise such a wall for use as a party wall, and to demolish a party fence wall and rebuild it as a party fence wall or as a party wall (Section 2(2)(I) PWA 1996).
Am I required to serve a formal Notice of the proposed works?
Before exercising any right conferred by Section 2 of the Act (set out above) a building owner is required to serve on any adjoining owner a party wall Notice.
The Notice must set out the nature and particulars of the work and the date the works will begin (among other requirements – you can see the full requirements here Section 3(1) PWA 1996).
Therefore in light of the above it would appear on the face of it that you would need to serve a party structure Notice on your neighbour before the works can be carried out to your garden wall.
However, Section 3(3) of the PWA 1996 goes on to say:
“Nothing in this section shall-
(a) prevent a building owner from exercising with the consent in writing of the adjoining owners and of the adjoining occupiers any rights conferred on him by section 2… “
In this scenario, you are not required to serve a formal party wall Notice. Written consent from your adjoining owner would be suitable.
This means that for some types of works, written consent from the adjoining owners can be sufficient, without the need for serving a formal notice and can still comply with the PWA 1996.
This is an exception to the general rule that if the PWA 1996 applies to your proposed works, you cannot agree with your neighbour to contract out of the Act.
The PWA 1996 is tricky for the unwary and the consequences of failing to comply with it can end you being much more significant (should a dispute with your neighbour arise) than your the works you may be considering doing. If you are considering doing works to your property and are unsure if the works fall within your rights of the PWA 1996 and/or whether you are required to serve a Notice on your neighbour seek advice.
If you are considering doing works at your property and would like advice on the PWA 1996, or need advice on a boundary dispute or any boundary related matters please contact Aileigh Brough at firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to call us on 0207 703 5034.
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