So you have been granted planning permission by your local council and now you’re looking to serve Party Wall Notices upon your neighbours (adjoining owners)?
Well, in this week’s blog post I will discuss the different ways that the Party Wall etc Act 1996 allows for Party Wall Notices to be served. I can assure you many building owners assume that they can simply give their neighbours a call to “notify” them without anything in writing and it’s done!
Serving Party Wall Notices in a legal manner is vital, however, I must stress the importance of first of all ensuring that your Party Wall Notices are valid and in compliance with the Party Wall etc Act 1996. If you are looking to serve Notices yourself but are unsure whether they include all the necessary requirements for a legal, get in touch with one of our Berry Lodge Surveyors and a member of our team will be happy to help.
Let’s assume that you (the building owner) have been granted planning permission by your local authority for a single-storey rear extension.. so how best to serve Notices to ensure they are legally valid? These are some points to consider below:
The address of the adjoining owner’s property and building owner’s property
To ensure a valid Notice, the Notices must confirm the full address of the adjoining owner as well as the full address of the building owner. This will clearly inform the adjoining owner where the notifiable works are taking place and dispels any possible confusion.
Not addressing all the owners of the adjoining owners’ property
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 confirms that Notices must be addressed to ‘all’ the legal owners of the property. If the name of the owner is not known, the Notices can be addressed to ‘The Owner’. However, in this case, they must be served by hand or fixed on a conspicuous part of the property.
The Party Wall Notices are legal documents and therefore to serve them unsigned would deem it invalid.
For the purpose of this scenario, we assumed that a single-storey rear extension is proposed, this would certainly require excavations and the Party Wall etc Act 1996 confirms that drawings must be included alongside foundation details with the service of Notices. Furthermore, it is required to inform the adjoining owners whether underpinning is proposed or not.
Now that we have ensured the validity of your Notices.. how do you go about serving them?
In order to ensure that Party Wall Notices are served in a correct manner which complies with the Party Wall etc Act 1996, these are the main ways to get them served:
Serving Notices by Post:
This is generally the most common method of serving Party Wall Notices. It is vital to ensure that you have the full contact address of the adjoining owners as this will avoid any delays in receiving responses. The Official Land Registry Portal will generally include the contactable address of the adjoining owners.
Serving Notices by Hand:
The Act allows for Notices to be served by hand by the building owner provided that it is physically handed to the building owner or the occupant.
Fixing Notices on doors or windows
This is the least common or preferred method of serving Party Wall Notices. This is due to the fact that it is generally deemed impolite to fix Notices on another’s door or window. Nevertheless, the Act allows that in the event the owner of the property is unresponsive then Party Wall Notices should be fixed onto the door or a window in a visible manner. The term used within the Act is ‘conspicuous’, so the Notices should be fixed in a conspicuous part of the property.
I was recently involved in a major Party Wall Project within West London which involved approximately 30 different adjoining owners and as expected, many owners were non-responsive therefore I fixed the Notices onto the doors or windows, whichever I deemed more visible to the occupier.
I would advise that if you are looking to hand serve Notices or fix them to a conspicuous part of the property, then take a photo which will later serve as evidence should it be necessary that Notices were served.
If you wish to speak with one of our experienced Party Wall Surveyors regarding Party Wall Notices that you wish to serve, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.