In this week’s surveying blog, we will be looking at Party Wall Notices and the best method of their service.
Once a building owner planning construction works has obtained all necessary planning approvals, if notifiable in accordance with the Party Wall etc Act, the next step would be to notify all adjoining owners that may be affected by these works via a Party Wall Notice.
If the works are to be directly to the Party Wall, Notice would need to be served 2 months before the planned works.
If the works are to be directly to the Party Wall, Notice would need to be served 1 month before the planned works.
Once notice is served, the adjoining owners have 3 response options available to them:
Response Option 1: Party Wall Notice Consent
Consenting means the adjoining owner will be giving the go ahead without any further of the Act’s procedures being followed.
Here at Stokemont, in attempt to ensure the building owners protection against any potential false damage claim as well as any damage occurring to a consenting adjoining owner during or post construction work, we would still highly recommend that a Schedule of Condition Report of the adjoining owner’s property is opted for.
A Schedule of Condition Report involves a Party Wall Surveyor visiting the adjoining property prior to the construction work commencing, to record the condition, the surveyor will would then provide a copy of this report to each respective owner acting as a record of proof in the event of damage claim.
The building owner would be liable for the Schedule of Condition Report fees, should the adjoining owner wish to have report undertaken.
Response Option 2: Party Wall Notice Dissent, Agreed Surveyor Appointment
Dissenting and appointing an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor means that one Surveyor acts impartially on behalf of both the building owner and the adjoining owner.
The Surveyor’s role will be to protect the interests of both owners impartially via the agreement of a Party Wall Award which is a legal document, governing the construction work and adding damage protection above and beyond common law for both the building owner and the adjoining owner.
The building owner would be solely legally liable for both Party Wall Surveyors’ fees.
Response Option 3: Party Wall Notice Dissent, Two Surveyor Appointment
Dissenting and appointing their own Surveyor will mean that an adjoining owner will also need to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor. Both Surveyors will select a third surveyor at the interim who can mediate any disputes. Other than this, the surveyors will undertake the same roles as response option 2, concluding their input via the agreement of a Party Wall Award.
The building owner would be legally liable for both Party Wall Surveyors’ fees.
Once an option has been selected by the adjoining owners, the next stage would be to arrange for access to the neighbouring properties in order for the Schedule of Condition Report to undertaking either by the surveyor or surveyors, if two are included within the procedure.
Methods of Party Wall Notice Service
Royal Mail Postage:
This is the traditional method of service used industry wide, here at Stokemont we send all our notices via first class post and recipients tend to receive our documents within 1- 2 days of service.
Generally speaking, the Royal Mail 1st class Postage Service is relativity reliable, and we have no little to no issues in this regard.
However, as it can be imagined, in situations where some owners may be at odds historically, when it comes to receiving documentation, it can be suggested that the post may have not been received. Therefore, it may be considered that recorded delivery may be the best approach in this instance, however, we strongly would suggest that this method should be avoided as if the recipient isn’t present during the delivery attempt, it’s impossible to a establish if the notice had been validly served.
We would advise that proof of service be opted for in a situation such as this as this certifies that the post had successfully reached its destination. This way once the statuary allowance of 16 days, 14 days, plus a two-day grace period allowing for postages runs its course, the statutory procedures can be followed which would result in a further notice being served in accordance with Section 10(4) of the Act.
The Section 10(4) reminder, or reminder notice, as it is commonly referred to within the profession will effectively give an adjoining owner a further 12 statutory notice days, and 2 grace postage days to respond. You can read a little about 10(4) Party Wall Notices here.
Service By Hand:
Party Wall Notices can also be served by hand from one owner to the other, however the key thing to note is that the letter or notice, cannot be hand posted through the adjoining owner’s letter box, as surprisingly that does not constitute legal service.
Instead, notice will need to be physically ‘served’ or handed to the occupant or owner or should there be no-one present during the service attempt, the Party Wall Notice will need to be fixed (usually sellotaped) to the adjoining owner’s door and photographed for recording keeping.
Service by Email:
Given that email is very much a common way of communication in today’s day and age,
The Act was revised in April 2016 under the Electronic Communication Order to clarify the position in respect of serving documents by email.
The key thing to note with respect to this method, is that this can only be utilised upon prior consent by the recipient. Therefore, it somewhat limits the efficiencies of this method with respect to serving notices.
More so for surveyors, as in most cases surveyors would not have an email address of an individual who isn’t their client. Therefore, this would need to be requested from the Building Owner, however, beforehand the building owner would need to ask for confirmation that adjoining owner(s) are happy to receive the notice electronically.
Here at Stokemont, we serve hundreds of Party Wall Notices every year, and in our experience the best and most reliable way to service Party Wall Notices are via the Royal Mail post.
In many cases the Royal Mail will guarantee delivery of a first class letter the following day, and in most cases, it is a familiar means of communication that we are all able to understand, read and most importantly respond to.
We also have a free Party Wall Notice creator on our website, that will enable you to create and serve a legally valid Party Wall Notice directly upon an adjoining owner.
All you need to do is follow these simple step-by-step procedures, take note of the informative explanatory video, and ultimately ensure that you adhere to the necessary requirements.
Party Wall Notices don’t need to be overly complex, and we would actually advise aiming to keep them as simple as you can. After all, it is only intended to notify an adjoining owner of the proposed works and should therefore be a simple to read and understand notification.
If you would like to discuss party wall procedures with our experienced and qualified team of party wall surveyors, get in touch with us today and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.