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Neighbouring Walls and Boundaries

Neighboring walls and boundaries

 

The Party Wall Act was introduced in 1996 and came into force on 1st July 1997, to avoid and resolve building disputes between neighbours. This article explains the Act and your rights and duties under it.

 

This article will be useful to you if you are the owner of a property which adjoins another property.

 

Summary of the Act

The legislation describes the requirements that must be given to neighbours when work has to be done to a) build a new wall, b) repair an existing wall, or c) gain access to the other property in order o fulfill points a) and b). It also covers ways in which you can resolve disputes between property owners in situations arising from the above.

 

The wall between two buildings is often the centre of dispute between the two owners.  This seems to happen more where the wall is external than internal.  Possibly it is more difficult to change an internal wall, so there is less room for problems to arise.

 

The law applies to both existing and new walls. The definition if a “wall” is not clear, however, we believe it would cover most boundaries such as brick, concrete and stone walls. Other structures such as wooden and wire fencing might well not be covered. Hedges are certainly not walls. Hedges will be covered by a different piece of legislation, as well as deeds.

 

The Act applies to the "owner" of the property involved which includes a tenant whose tenancy lasts for more than a year.

 

Types of Walls

The act defines three types of “wall”;

 

·          a party wall

 

-           stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners;

-           is part of one building, or

-           separates two (or more) buildings, or

-           consists of a "party fence wall".

 

·          a "party fence wall"

 

-           is not part of a building, and stands astride the boundary line between lands of different owners and is used to separate those lands (for example a garden wall). This does not include such things as wooden fences.

-           stands wholly on one owner's land, but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings.

 

·          a “party structure”

 

-           This covers a floor partition between flats and maisonettes that are adjoined by separate entrances. One person might have built a wall, the other person might then construct their building right next to it without first building a wall of their own. 

 

Net Lawman advice:

 

-           By far the best way of settling any point of difference is by friendly discussion with your neighbour. Net Lawman supplies a host of letters you might like to use to support your argument, some stronger than others. We have one specific document that deals with “walls”. You can find it at:

   http://www.netlawman.co.uk/csdoclist/houses-boundaries.php

 

-           Always put an agreement in writing.  Memories fade, demands change and new neighbours never knew.

 

-           If you have an agreement, make sure you tell your solicitor before you try to sell. Your formal title may need to be changed at the Land Registry or may be the situation should be declared to prospective buyers to avoid future problems.

 

-           an agreement with your adjoining owner does not remove the possible need to apply for planning permission or to comply with building regulations.

 

-           You cannot stop someone from exercising the rights given to them by the Act, but you may be able to influence how and at what times the work is done.

 

-           If it is you who wishes to take action, then take a pragmatic approach to any work that may have an impact on an adjoining property. Follow the correct procedure and secure in advance an official agreement with all relevant parties.  That saves delay in your project if someone complains.                       

Similar article of interest link: Hedges and Trees - Anti Social behaviour

 

 

Useful Net Lawman document templates:


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