Party Wall Disputes

The Party Wall Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

A building owner proposing to start work covered by the Act must give their neighbour, (the adjoining owner)  formal notice of their proposed work. Adjoining owners can agree or disagree with what is proposed. Where they disagree, the Act provides a mechanism for resolving disputes, and we can advise either party as to the legal obligations and technicalities of the dispute.

It is important to note that the Act is separate from obtaining planning permission, building regulations approval, or any restrictive covenants that may exist.

The main types of party walls are:

  • a wall that stands on the lands of two (or more) owners and forms part of a building - this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners.
  • a wall that stands on the lands of two owners but does not form part of a building, such as a garden wall but not including timber fences.
  • a wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings.

The initial stage is usually surveyor led. The surveyor will prepare a schedule of condition covering the ‘at risk’ parts of the adjoining property before any construction work begins and such is strongly recommended. In the event that damage occurs as a result of the work, a schedule of condition will protect both parties from unfair or misleading claims made by the other party. The document provides proof of the property’s condition prior to work so that it can be properly restored in case of damage occurring.

Surveyors will also prepare a party wall award to regulate the time and manner of works cover by the Act. The award will cover important aspects such as working hours, access and safeguards to reduce the risk of damage occurring.

If the owner conducting the work has not provided formal notice, they are acting in breach of the Act and to protect your property you may have to take action to stop them.

If you have not been able to resolve your dispute informally then we are able to provide an initial advice as to the merits of your case and the best process to achieve the desired objective

The process may involve applying for an injunction from the County Court. A Judge will listen to your case and you will likely be required to provide a cross-undertaking in costs – meaning that if your neighbour is not actually conducting illegal works, you will be liable for any costs incurred as a result of the injunction. Although the Court expects parties to move quickly, some sort of alternative dispute resolution may still be appropriate.

If you would like to know more about party wall disputes, then please select ‘make an enquiry’ or call us on 020 8290 0333 to talk to one of our experienced solicitors.


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