Adjoining Owners & Occupiers

Expert independent advice will help you assess the validity of any notice and make an informed decision about how to respond. You may not be familiar with construction works, technical design or terminology and the requirements of statutory authorities.

If you live in England & Wales and your neighbour is planning building works, they must comply with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. It is a legal duty for a Building Owner (property owner intending to carry out the work) to serve a notice of their intentions on an Adjoining Owner prior to executing works to which the Act relates. This includes building on the line of junction (the property boundary on the ground); works to existing party structures; and certain works involving excavation and construction below ground. The statutory notice periods are 1 or 2 months depending on the type of work.

The Building Owner will be responsible for any damage to your property arising from their works.

Adjoining Occupiers have limited rights under the Act compared to Adjoining Owners. They are not entitled to receive the notices described above but are entitled to notice for access onto the Adjoining Owner’s property.

In certain circumstances, an Adjoining Owner may serve a counter notice on the Building Owner requiring works to be carried out for their benefit. 

The Act also permits Adjoining Owners to serve notice requiring security for expenses from the Building Owner before the works commence. This is typically to cover the potential expense of reinstatement works should the works not be completed for whatever reason.  

If you dissent to the Building Owner’s proposals contained in the notice this gives rise to a dispute under the Act. If you fail to respond positively within 14 days of the notice being served a dispute shall be deemed to have arisen under the Act (except in the case of works under s.1). Where a dispute arises or is deemed to have arisen it must be resolved by surveyor(s) in accordance with s.10 of the Act. The parties must either concur in the appointment of a single Agreed Surveyor, or each appoint their own surveyor to resolve the dispute by way of an Award.

An Award is a formal and legally binding decision made by the appointed surveyor(s) that allows the notified works to proceed and defines the rights and obligations of the parties according to the terms specified therein. It will name the parties and the relevant properties and may include drawings, method statements and other pertinent information. The Award will typically also contain a schedule of condition that records the state of the Adjoining Owner’s property before the start of the works. The Award is served on the parties and they each have a right of appeal to the County Court within 14 days. If no appeal is made, the Award is conclusive and cannot then be challenged in any court.

If damage arises to the Adjoining Owner’s or Occupier’s property and the parties are unable to agree the cause, extent or remedy, the matter in dispute can be referred to the surveyors for determination by way of a further Award.

If you suspect the Building Owner is carrying out notifiable works and has not served you with the relevant notice(s), you may wish to seek to stop the works by applying to the courts for an injunction. If an injunction is granted it will restrain the Building Owner from continuing the unauthorised works until such time as the Act is complied with. You are strongly advised to seek legal advice before taking this course of action.

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