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Who should a party wall notice be served on?

Sep 21, 2022

When a building owner is planning to undertake construction works that fall within the Party Wall etc Act 1996 they are legally required to serve notice on all adjoining owners.

Building Owner Requirements

A building owner is required to serve party wall notice if they are either constructing a new wall up to or astride the line of junction with the adjoining property. For works of this nature, the building owner is required to serve notice 1 month before commencing with their works.

Party Wall Works

If a building owner is undertaking works directly to a party wall or structure then they are required to serve a party wall notice to the adjoining owner(s) 2 months prior to the commencement of their works. Examples of this type of work could be if they are cutting into the party wall for the insertion of steel beams or underpinning the party wall.

If a building owner is undertaking excavations within 3m of the adjoining property and to a lower depth than the adjoining owner’s foundations, then they are required to serve notice upon them.

Leaseholders, Freeholders & Tenants

A common question asked by building owners is if they are required to serve notices upon the freeholder or the leaseholder. The answer to that is that you are required to serve on both the freeholder and the relevant leaseholders. Under the Act, freeholders and leaseholders are deemed separate owners.

If you are a building owner who is planning construction works and the neighbouring property is made up of a large number of leaseholders, it can go a long way by trying to make contact with all adjoining owners and serving the notice by hand. This way you can potentially reduce the number of surveyors appointed by the adjoining property.

For properties that are tenanted, building owners are also required to serve notice upon the tenants if their contract is greater than 1 year.

Response Timing

When a building owner serves party wall notice, the adjoining owner has a 14-day period to respond to the notice with one of the following options.

Party Wall Notice Response Options

Firstly, an adjoining owner can consent to the notice, this will allow the building owner to commence with their proposed works. In the event of damage, the adjoining owner will be protected by common law rather by the Act.

Alternatively, the adjoining owner can dissent to the notice and either appoint an independent party wall surveyor or appoint an ‘agreed surveyor’ which you can read more about here. If the adjoining owner proceeds with this option, the appointed surveyor will visit the adjoining property to undertake a Schedule of Condition. Following on from this the party wall surveyor will then write up the party wall award, feel free to read more about party wall awards by clicking here.

If the adjoining owner does not respond within the 14-day period, the building owner is then required to serve a further notice under section 10(4) of the Act. This will then provide the adjoining owner with an additional 10 days to respond to the notice with one of the options set out above.

Once the 10-day period expires and there is still no response from the adjoining owner, the building owner is able to either proceed with their works or appoint a surveyor on their behalf.

If the building owner decides to proceed with the works there is a risk that the adjoining owner can appoint a surveyor at any stage throughout the works which would cause delays to the works. For this reason, we would always advise that a building owner appoints a surveyor to avoid delays to their works.

The appointed surveyor will then carry out a Schedule of Condition albeit only of the external areas and then produce the party wall award.

The party wall act can be confusing even at the best of times, please feel free to give one of our experienced party wall surveyors a call by clicking here.

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