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Property Surveying Blog

Written by Aman Singh

In this week’s blog post, I will be discussing the options that you as the building owner (person doing the works) can take in the event that there are both freeholders and leaseholders involved at the adjoining owners’ (neighbour) property.

I will be discussing this mainly from the perspective from the building owner who wishes to serve Party Wall Notices to notify the adjoining owners of their intention to carry out notifiable works.

I was very recently working on a project within North London where the property had both Leasehold and Freehold interests.

In this instance, I had to conduct extensive desktop research to determine the Leaseholders and Freeholders as this would impact where the Party Wall Notices would be served.

It is important to get this right in order to avoid multiple disputes which would become costly and time consuming. Another reason why it is important to get this right is to ensure legal protections are in place for both the building owner and adjoining owner.

What is a Leaseholder and a Freeholder? 

You may have come across these terms at some point, these are very common terms which describes the occupiers or owners of a particular property with a particular interest.

For instance, Leaseholders only own the property for a fixed term.

On the other hand, Freeholders own the land on which the property stands.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 makes clear that Party Wall Notices must be served upon all owners of the property. This includes the Leaseholders that it impacts as well as the Freeholder.

So how should I find out who is the Leaseholder and who is the Freeholder? 

One of the most common methods of determining exactly who owns the Leasehold and the Freehold interests is through the Official Land Registry title registers. This will provide clear indication as to the adjoining owners (neighbours) are and this is where the Notices would need to be served.

So we have established who the Leaseholders and Freeholders are…what is the next step?

As mentioned previously, I was working on a project within London where there were 4 notifiable owners; two of them were Leaseholders and the remaining were Freeholders.

The tactical way to approach this is through a piecemeal Party Wall Notice Service.

A piecemeal service is whereby the building owner serves Party Wall Notices upon one owner (Leaseholder or Freeholder) first, await their response and then serve Party Wall Notices upon the other owner.

So in my project, I served Notices upon the Leaseholders first and once I had received responses back from them, I advised my client that we can now go ahead and serve upon the Freeholders.

The logic behind this method is that it can help in reducing the number of different responses and multiple Surveyors appointed. This will enable the process to be more efficient and saves cost for multiple Surveyors’ fees.

Are you working on a project and feel unsure as to how to approach serving Notices upon the adjoining owners? Get in touch with one of our Surveyors and we will happily guide you.