Thank you for taking the time to check out this week’s blog post, the purpose of this blog is to provide you with information about Party Wall Injunctions and the procedures surrounding those so that you’re fully informed of the facts!
Unfortunately and quite commonly, many building owners carry out construction works that are notifiable under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 without serving a Party Wall Notice upon their neighbours the adjoining owners.
To many people’s surprise, there are no legal (under the Party Wall etc Act 1996) penalties in place for a building owner who carries out construction works without following the party wall procedures.
For this reason, many building owners do decide to ignore, or conveniently overlook the Act’s procedures and it is an issue that here at Stokemont we are commonly asked to advise on.
So, what are your options if your neighbour is currently undertaking construction works – that are notifiable under the Act – and they have not provided you with a Party Wall Notice?
Disappointingly, the only solution available to an adjoining owner to stop the works is to obtain a Party Wall Injunction.
A Party Wall Injunction is a court order which gives the adjoining owner the legal right to stop the building owner from continuing with their planned party wall works. If upon service of the injunction, a building owner fails to stop their works, then they could be punished by being imprisoned or fined.
Looking at this from a reasonable perspective, it’s unlikely the building owner would ever find themselves staring through prison bars, or pleading for their one phone call! However, a fine is a highly likely outcome, not to mention having to cover the adjoining owner’s costs for obtaining the injunction.
Regrettably, the funds required in order to obtain a Party Wall Injunction are very expensive and the adjoining owner could find themselves liable for all the resultant costs created by the delay of the works. Typically, the costs for securing a party wall injunction fall within the region of £5,000 to £15,000.
For this reason, we would always advise that adjoining owners seek advice from a solicitor regarding obtaining an injunction.
If the court does decide to provide an adjoining owner with a party wall injunction and in the future does decide that the adjoining owner rightfully obtained it. Then the building owner would be liable to pay for the adjoining owners’ legal costs.
For what reasons would you apply for a Party Wall Injunction?
A party wall injunction can be obtained by an adjoining owner if their neighbour (the building owner) commences with works that are notifiable under the act without providing the respective adjoining owners with a party wall notice.
The court makes it clear that in order to obtain a party wall injunction the following conditions must apply:
- There must be a serious issue to be tried – Essentially, this means that there must be a severe risk to the property prior to the commencement of the works.
- Claiming for damages is not a sufficient remedy – This means that the works must not have commenced or are only partially completed as it would not be suitable to apply for an injunction if the works have been completed.
- The balance of convenience favours an injunction – An injunction will only be served if it is able to serve a practical purpose.
When a building owner is in breach of the act and the notifiable works have been completed the adjoining owner has a range of options available to resolve the issue:
- Do nothing
- Try to reach an agreement with the building owner
- Claim for damage compensation
How do you obtain a Party Wall Injunction?
It is usually a simple and non-time-consuming process to obtain a party wall injunction. The courts are well prepared to process injunction applications and there is a standard form which adjoining owners are required to fill out.
The application form should be supported by a short witness statement which sets out the current situation. This can either be submitted by the adjoining owners party wall surveyor or by the adjoining owner themselves.
The statement should include a description of what works the building owner is undertaking, state that there is no written consent or a relevant award in place authorising the works, show that attempts to communicate with the building owner have been made and whether any damage has
Are Party Wall Injunction’s appropriate?
Obtaining a Party Wall Injunction does pose severe financial risks to the adjoining owner as they will be required to pay the legal fees. Not only this, but the adjoining owner could also find themselves liable for the building owner’s legal fees and the fees caused by delaying the works if the court decides that the adjoining owner wrongfully obtained an injunction.
If you are an adjoining owner who is at all concerned about your neighbours works and are considering applying for a party wall injunction it is vital that you seek expert legal advice.
A suitable option available to an adjoining owner would be to have an experienced party wall surveyor carry out a schedule of condition of their property prior to the commencement of their neighbours works. This would allow the adjoining owner to claim compensation for any damage caused to their property as a result of the building owners works.
Here at Stokemont we specialise in Party Wall surveying and if you would like further information about Party Wall Injunctions then please do not hesitate to give one of our highly experienced surveyors a call or email by clicking here.