Why should you serve a notice under the Party Wall Act? Advice for those proposing to carry out work which may affect their neighbours.
August 31, 2021
Why should you serve Party Wall notices on your neighbours if you have already obtained Town Planning and Building Regulation consent to build an extension and/or carry-out other works to your property? A second question may also arise in this context: why should a notice be served on your neighbours if you not carrying out any work to the party (shared) wall but merely proposing to build an extension solely on your land?
To address the first question, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (‘the Act’) deals with ‘neighbourly’ matters which are not covered by Planning and Building Regulations. The answer to the second query is found in the use of the Latin term “etc.” in the title to this Act. Legislators who draft multifaceted Acts of Parliament often use “etc.” as it indicates that similar matters are included in the statute; in this case, the Act also includes excavations within 3 and 6 metres of neighbouring properties and proposals to build across and up against the boundary line. The service of a valid notice triggers procedures under the Act which will eventually enable you to carry out such work, whilst at the same time protecting the legitimate interests of your neighbours. As long as the procedures are correctly followed, you will have statutory rights which would otherwise be considered a trespass or a potential nuisance in common law, for example: the temporary interference with the easement for the right of support; cutting-off overhanging features to neighbouring structures; underpinning a party wall; and gaining temporary access and placing scaffolding on neighbouring land to carry out the work. This list is not exhaustive, but the Act is correctly described as ‘an enabling Act’, that is, it will allow you to carry out specific work and avoid recourse to the courts. For further information on Party Wall procedures visit the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyor’s Website fpws.org.uk and/or Helpline.