In today’s Property Surveying blogpost, we are going to be taking an in-depth look at party wall surveying procedures. In particular, we are going to be looking at the scenarios that arise when a building owner serves a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner.
Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, the building owner is the legal referral given to the owner whom is undertaking the proposed construction works to their property.
The adjoining owner, is the legal referral for the property owner who borders and neighbours the aforementioned construction works.
Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, and in particular Sections 1, 2 and 6, the building owner has a legal duty and responsibility to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner a minimum of one, or two months in advance of their proposed construction works commencing.
The Party Wall Notice’s intent is to not only notify and inform the adjoining owner of the proposed works, it is also to give them the opportunity to appoint a party wall surveyor on their behalf should they choose to select this Party Wall Notice response option.
In order for the Party Wall etc Act 1996 to be correctly invoked upon an adjoining owner, the all-important point hinges on whether the Party Wall Notice is deemed to be legally valid or not.
A legally-valid Party Wall Notice means that it meets all of the legal requirements as set out by the statutes, and is free from issue or defect which would raise claim of invalidity and the need for re-service.
We are going to be taking a brief look at some of the typical Party Wall Notice invalidities that we see on a daily basis here at Stokemont, in an effort to help you avoid them and hopefully get the Party Wall Notice off to the best start.
Party Wall Notice Addressee
One of the most typical and common Party Wall Notice invalidities that we see here at Stokemont, is a Party Wall Notice being addressed to the wrong legal owner.
In many cases, building owners will incorrectly address a Party Wall Notice to their neighbours, who in some cases can be tenants.
Or equally, they may address the Party Wall Notice to a single owner, such as a husband or a wife, as opposed to both of the respective legal owners.
Unfortunately, this type of scenario will result in the Party Wall Notice being deemed invalid, and therefore it would need to be re-served in due course in order to get the ball correctly rolling.
Inconspicuous Party Wall Notice Service
In the event that the building owner is not aware of the adjoining owner’s legal name, or whom they are, the Party Wall etc Act 1996 allows for a building owner to address a Party Wall Notice to “the owner”. However, in order for a Party Wall Notice addressed to the “the owner” to be deemed as correctly and legally served validly, it must be posted, or pasted, or fixed to a conspicuous part of the adjoining owner’s property.
In layman’s terms, what this means is that the Party Wall Notice will need to be fixed to an area of the neighbouring property that there is no question of doubt as to whether the adjoining owner will be able to see the Notice or not.
Commonly, this will be front doors, front gates, or front windows.
The intention is for the adjoining owner to be able to see the Notice, and thereby given the opportunity to act upon it by response.
Commonly, we see Notices being addressed to the owner, and then posted through letterboxes, or posted via the Royal Mail.
Both of these procedures will be deemed to be legally invalid, thereby requiring Notice re-service.
Another incredibly common and repetitive outcome we see here at Stokemont, is that Party Wall Notices are served without necessary drawings enclosed.
Under Section 6 of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, a key requirement of the Party Wall Notice procedures is that the adjoining owner is furnished with a site plan, and profile of the building owner’s proposed foundations.
In a nutshell, this effectively means that the building owner must give the adjoining owner these sets of drawings in order to legally validate the Party Wall Notice.
This is commonly overlooked, in particular the profile of the foundation, meaning that in due course the Party Wall Notice will need to be re-served and would have been deemed to be legally invalid in the first instance.
Proposed Work Start Date
In order for a Party Wall Notice to be deemed legally valid, the building owner must inform the adjoining owner of their proposed construction works’ start date.
Importantly, this will need to be either one, or two months from the date of the Party Wall Notice service.
In the event that the building owner enters a date sooner than this, you have probably guessed it, it will make the Party Wall Notice deemed to be legally invalid, and in due course would require re-service.
Party Wall Notices are a key part of the party wall process, and given the statutory timeframes from when a Party Wall Notice is served to when a building owner is legally able to commence their works, ensuring correct service is fundamental.
While a number of adjoining owners will opt to serve their own Party Wall Notices, here at Stokemont we tend to advise that this is only done when the building owner has put in a significant amount of research and is in a position whereby they fully understand all of the necessary statutory requirements.
We would also advise that the adjoining owner gains some form of guidance in preparing their own Party Wall Notice, whether this be through our own Party Wall Noticity provider, or from any other Party Wall Notice providers.
The key throughout the process is to ensure that the Party Wall Notice is not only valid, but equally clear, as the adjoining owner will want to have as much information as possible to enable them to make a fully-informed decision.
Here at Stokemont, we serve multiple Notices each and every day.
If you would like to discuss your Party Wall Notice service requirements with our team of experienced and qualified RICS surveyors and party wall surveyors, please feel free to give us a call today, and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.
We are also very proud to offer 30 minutes free, no-strings party wall advice to all enquiries.
If you would like to take us up on this offer, all you need to do is give us a call today, or perhaps pop over an e-mail with the information you require clarification on, and we will ensure that this is reviewed, responded to and advice given without delay.