In this week’s blog post, there will be a discussion towards the consequences of not adhering to the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and why it is important to follow. Also, I will be looking at what needs to be done, if building works have already begun and what can be done from an adjoining owner (who is the neighbouring owner’s) perspective.
The consequences of not adhering to the Party Wall etc Act 1996 can lead to problems and high costs in the long term and once the works have started.
If construction works have started without any Party Wall Notice having been provided to the adjoining owners, the adjoining owner will be able to take the matter forward to court through the process of obtaining Party Wall Injunction.
What is an Injunction?
Injunctions can be obtained and applied for within a quick time frame via the courts, which means the works that have been started can be stopped immediately until the process of the Party Wall etc act 1996 is adhered to. In the unlikely case that the building owner still does ignore the injunction, then it will be seen as a criminal offence.
The building owner may (and in most cases will) be accountable for the costs of obtaining the injunction, including but not limited to, the court fees, solicitor fees, barrister fees and surveyor fees. This is because the building owner should have served the necessary Party Wall Notice and followed the Party Wall etc Act 1996 accordingly before the building works started.
Furthermore, if you fail to serve a Party Wall Notice, a ‘Statutory Duty’ that a building owner has bestowed upon them will also have been breached.
What happens if there is Damage?
If the works that started without a Party Wall Notice have caused damage to the adjoining owner’s property, there will be likely to follow ‘Reverse Burden of Proof’.
Therefore, the building owner will need to provide proof that the alleged damage isn’t a result of his or her works, as opposed to the adjoining owner providing proof that it is. In normal circumstances this is quite tricky for the building owner to do as a pre-work Schedule of Condition Report wouldn’t have been undertaken.
Why do Building Owner’s start works without Serving Party Wall Notice?
The reasons can be far and wide, however, in my opinion, tend to be one of the following:
Lack of Knowledge
The building owner not knowing about the procedures to follow which meant that they never knew that they had to send a Party Wall Notice in the first place.
Non-Party Wall Works
The proposed works that are being done may not be relevant for the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
Non Receipt of Party Wall Notice
The served Party Wall Notice upon you may not have been received which led to the building owner to start their construction works.
A building owner forgetting the Party Wall Surveying procedures, conveniently or otherwise, isn’t an uncommon position to be in. If you find yourself in this situation remember, don’t panic, get in touch with an experienced Party Wall Surveyor at the first instance who will be able to fully advise on what should be done and how to best approach the issue.
Here at Berry Lodge, we offer 30 minutes of Free Party Wall Advice, feel free to get in touch with us now!