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Disputing Party Wall Access

Apr 14, 2022

In today’s property surveying blog post we are going to be focusing party wall procedures and in particular, the scenarios that come into play when party wall access is agreed via a Party Wall Award.

Party Wall Awards, also commonly referred to as Party Wall Agreements, is the legal document which enables the building owner to lawfully proceed with their proposed construction works.

The Party Wall Award will not only set out the party wall works that the building owner has a legal right to undertake, it wall also govern the building owner’s proposed works during the course of their undertaking.

Importantly, and in many cases, the party wall award will also deal with any rights of access that the building has onto the adjoining owner’s land. 

Once this access has been agreed via the Party Wall Award, the building owner, his agents, or workmen will all have the legal right to enter onto the adjoining owner’s land, for the purpose of safely constructing and undertaking the party wall works.

This right of access is set out in Section 8 of the Act as follows:

(1) A building owner, his servants, agents and workmen may during usual working hours enter and remain on any land or premises for the purpose of executing any work in pursuance of this Act and may remove any furniture or fittings or take any other action necessary for that purpose.

(2) If the premises are closed, the building owner, his agents and workmen may, if accompanied by a constable or other police officer, break open any fences or doors in order to enter the premises.

(3) No land or premises may be entered by any person under subsection (1) unless the building owner serves on the owner and the occupier of the land or premises—

  • in case of emergency, such notice of the intention to enter as may be reasonably practicable;
  • in any other case, such notice of the intention to enter as complies with subsection (4)

(4) Notice complies with this subsection if it is served in a period of not less than fourteen days ending with the day of the proposed entry.

(5) A surveyor appointed or selected under section 10 may during usual working hours enter and remain on any land or premises for the purpose of carrying out the object for which he is appointed or selected.

(6) No land or premises may be entered by a surveyor under subsection (5) unless the building owner who is a party to the dispute concerned serves on the owner and the occupier of the land or premises—

  • in case of emergency, such notice of the intention to enter as may be reasonably practicable;
  • in any other case, such notice of the intention to enter as complies with subsection (4).

In many cases, once access has been agreed, adjoining owners will often want to stop or prevent it from taking place.

It is worth bearing in mind that the right of access is a legal right that the building owner, their agents, or workmen have, and effectively should an adjoining owner attempt to stop, stall, or delay this legal right of access, they would actually be committing an offense, as per the wording of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996.

It is worth noting that the Party Wall Award that has been agreed will carefully govern and managed the proposed access onto the adjoining owner’s land.  It will be prohibitive in terms of timing, duration and it will also set out various different protective provisions that the building owner needs to adhere to through the course of the proposed works.

We are going to take a quick look at some of these so that you are fully abreast of them.

Hoarding

Hoarding, or temporarily fencing, is the installation of a work screen to the flank of the working area. 

The hoarding will temporarily protect the adjoining owner’s garden from the access, ensuring that the workmen have a limited working space so they aren’t given carte blanche to access other areas of the garden.  The hoarding will also ensure that there is a reduction and dust and nuisance associated with the works.

Timing Limitations

Access will be strictly limited to certain times.  These commonly tend to be reduced working hours, often 0900-1600.

By reducing the working hours, the adjoining owner is less likely to see the workmen on their land, and as such the nuisance should be minimised.

Limitation of Duration

The access duration will not be for the entirety of the building owner’s proposed work.

Instead, the access will be restricted to the absolute necessary time that the contractor would need in order to safely undertake the proposed construction works.

This effectively means they must prioritise the work which requires access and complete it in the most time effective way possible.  Commonly, access is awarded for no more than four weeks, however it can obviously be a touch higher, it just depends on the overall works taking place.

In any event, party wall access can be an unwelcome introduction to the building owner’s construction procedures.   The key thing to note is that should a building owner’s works qualify under the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 for the legal right to access, it will be carefully considered from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property.

If you would like to discuss party wall surveying procedures with our team of qualified and experienced party wall surveyors here at Stokemont, please give us a call today and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.

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