Not adhering to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

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Consequences of not adhering to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996

If you are an owner of a property and you intend to carry out certain types of building works at that property, then there are a few things to think about before those works can commence. In addition to obtaining any necessary planning permission and ensuring compliance with building regulations, some work also requires you to adhere to the Party Wall etc Act 1996. These are:

• If you intend to build a free-standing wall or a wall attached to a building up to or astride the boundary of an adjacent property;
• You intend to complete work to an existing party wall/structure or build against the same; or
• You intend to excavate close to a neighbouring building.

But what if you don’t comply with the requirements of the Act? What then? Well, there are several potential consequences that you need to be aware of. Which consequences apply and to whom depends on whether you are the owner of the building where the works are being carried out or you’re the adjoining owner, as well as what part of the Act hasn’t been followed.

Providing notice

If the building owner allows work covered by the Act to start without providing due notice to all adjoining owners, then the adjoining owner can issue an application at court for an injunction. If granted, that injunction would mean that the building owner could not continue with the works until the injunction was no longer in force. Should the building owner disobey the injunction, this would be a contempt of court, a criminal offence for which he may be fined or even imprisoned.

The adjoining owner is also able to seek alternate forms of legal redress. As a minimum, this is likely to result in solicitor’s letters and at worst might include additional civil claims for damages for trespass and/or nuisance.

On top of that, the building owner may find that the court costs and legal fees of the adjoining owner(s) in issuing these court proceedings are also payable by him. That’s in addition to any of his legal fees in defending the claims.

 

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Unnecessary inconvenience

Under the Act, it is a requirement that the building owner does not cause unnecessary inconvenience to the adjoining owner. They are also required to make good any damage caused as a result of the works or provide the adjoining owner with a payment in lieu.

If this part of the Act is breached, then it again remains available to the adjoining owner to seek legal redress in the civil courts for whichever of these remedies he seeks. Again, legal fees might be ordered against the building owner if the adjoining owner’s court application is successful.

Responding to notices

For an adjoining owner, consequences can arise for them if they fail to respond to the building owner’s notice within 14 days from the date it is deemed served. This is because their lack of response is considered to be confirmation that a dispute has arisen. Accordingly, the dispute resolution procedure is invoked, meaning at least one jointly instructed surveyor must be involved, or two if instructed separately, who will, of course, have fees that will need paying by the parties.

Likewise, for the building owner who receives a counter-notice from an adjoining owner relating to additional or modified work that they would like to be included as part of the proposed works; the building owner should respond to that notice within 14 days to avoid the deemed dispute rule applying and possible extra fees.

It should also be noted that once a surveyor is involved, their award is final unless, on appeal, it is rescinded or modified by a county court. Appeals will also incur further costs and, should the appellant be unsuccessful, they could also be ordered to pay the legal fees of the other party.

Uncooperative adjoining owners

If the dispute resolution procedure has been invoked but the adjoining owner refuses to cooperate and appoint a surveyor as required, then action can be taken by the building owner. The building owner can instruct a second surveyor to act on behalf of the adjoining owner and the procedure continues.

Should the adjoining owner fail to comply with the Act in allowing properly notified access when necessary to the building owner’s workmen/any surveyor, then this is a criminal offence. In consequence, the adjoining owner could be brought before the magistrates’ court to be prosecuted.

For adjoining properties that are closed, a further consequence includes that entry by the building owner’s workmen/any surveyor is permitted, including by breaking open a fence or a door, but only if a police officer accompanies them and the building owner has fully complied with all of the Act’s procedures.

Disclosure

Both owners must remember that they may be required to disclose to future potential buyers if there has been a notice/dispute relating to the Party Wall etc Act.

Other points

For the building owner, there may be other consequences to bear in mind arising out of party wall works. For instance, if there is fear by the adjoining owner(s) that works of a particularly complex or intrusive nature will not be completed, security might be needed as a type of insurance.

If there are concerns around the works making a building dangerous or unsafe then this might be raised with the building control department for the relevant local authority, whereas excessive noise complaints might be referred to environmental health. This might lead to further action against the building owner.

Overall then, the consequences of not adhering to the Party Wall etc Act leaves the person in breach at risk of possible enforcement action. Whilst the Act itself does not include any enforcement provisions (unless stated otherwise above), it remains open for any involved party to refer the matter to the civil courts for remedy, as is the case with most property law matters.

To ensure that you avoid all of these consequences, call experienced party wall surveyors London, AC Design Solutions, today!

 
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Dealt with Zubear with a couple of queries during house renovations, and he provided a very swift and professional service at a very reasonable price.
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Lee Bright
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David Howard
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durdana shakir
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Sanjay Raja
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Hider Same
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Meb Akhtar
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Ftt Y4
16:10 05 May 20
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Manu K
Manu K
21:02 21 Apr 20
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Vin
Vin
18:28 19 Feb 20
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dariusz wadowski
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Veronica Martins
09:41 26 Jan 20
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Candy Zone
Candy Zone
13:46 21 Jan 20
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Romeo Popescu
08:35 13 Oct 19
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Hassan El-Kassir
Hassan El-Kassir
20:55 22 Aug 19
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Tarique Musa
Tarique Musa
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mustafa rasheed
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Ali Asghar
Ali Asghar
19:46 18 Sep 18
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B Pavlou
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Chris Wang
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Irfan Munir
15:55 06 Oct 17
I employed AC Design Solutions as I saw there previous work and was local to where I currently work. My house is located in the Ealing Borough it is a Semi Detached house. At the time I instructed AC Design Solutions i was getting an idea of what we want. They advised me on the layout of the interior and what would be cost effective. This was my first property and is the very first time I am planning to carry out a project like this. I didn't know any costs to how much things would cost. AC design solutions listened to my ideas and then gave me a break down on the best way to go about doing things and to keep the cost down. They put in plans for a 6 metre extension and a loft conversion which recently obtained approval and I am very happy with the service. I can count on them to do a good job. I have referred them to other families and friends.
Abdul Choudhury
Abdul Choudhury
15:36 17 May 17
Exceptional service, very polite and professional, knew what he was talking about. Guided me through the whole process. Live in Acton and Zaeem drew some plans for a single storey and done building regulations. Could not ask for more the whole process went through very smoothly.The 3 meters extension had uneven floor and had drains running through where the foundation was to be dug. Before employing AC Design Solutions I contacted a few other firms and did my due diligence. When they came no one mentioned to me regarding the issue with the drains and how the trees would affect the build. When AC Design Solutions came around first thing they did is look around the property and noted points for concerns which wereProximity of treesThe drains where the foundation would be dug. Another underlying issue they pulled out on was I had a two storey side extension already built and needed I needed a gable on the side to allow for enough headroom for the staircase. I am really happy with service and have recommended them to friends and family.
M K
M K
12:06 09 May 17
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praful kothari
17:55 12 Mar 17
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Gagan Kumar
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sunny wmz
21:15 23 Feb 17
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gul deep
11:43 20 Feb 17
1) Zaeem worked on my house extension and appeal successfully.2) Call out - has been Good3) Approachable and always hear what client say.4) Pricing - Competitive5) I am giving 4 1/2 stars as he is still young & can improve in review the designs with the client before submission. I will give job again to Zaeem for my house planning. ThanksSuresh Karanam
Suresh Babu
Suresh Babu
12:30 19 Feb 17