The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 has a critical role to play in property improvement. As a Party Wall Surveyor I am frequently called upon to advise owners of their rights and responsibilities under required in respect of ‘the Act’. So why use the Party Wall etc. Act 1996?
What cannot be underestimated when considering a project of any scale, is the expense that delay can cause. A delay could quickly result in the loss of rent, increased inconvenience, and polluted relations with neighbours. The builder or Contractor will then begin claiming for an extension of time or loss and expense, their schedule has been disrupted for something that ultimately is the Building Owner’s responsibility. Obviously, it is dependent on the process that has been used to procure the project; however, there is ample time to resolve Party Wall Disputes before commencing construction works of any scale.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, is statutory legislation and should be used. If the works are in scope of the act, no matter how limited, there is little excuse for not using the Act, the cost or effort of obtaining valid consent vastly outweighs the financial risk of proceeding without it.
Through experience my first advice to a disgruntled Adjoining Owner on matter that involves a Building Owner proceeding with works without having served a valid notice and obtaining consent or going to any effort to form an agreement, is the advice of an injunction. By not following this legislation a Building Owner is breaching the rights of the Adjoining Owners or neighbours and will be at the mercy of the local county court and associated costs of litigation. The Act was passed to avoid this and can prove costly if overlooked.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides a means for works to take place and without it those means do not necessarily exist. This may sound very serious and projects do happen without any mention of the Act; however, should damage be caused without the Act in place or a Schedule of Condition taken, you are open to an increased risk in claims of trespass and / or nuisance which are often contentious and are therefore best avoided. Injunctions can effectively suspend construction operations completely, causing severe financial deficits.