Residential Property Dispute Solicitors
Party Wall Disputes
Disputes over party walls are becoming increasingly common. A party wall is one that is shared by two buildings – such as one that separates terraced or semi-detached houses. Party wall legislation also covers:
- garden walls built over a boundary
- excavations near a neighbouring property – either within three or six metres of the property, depending on the depth of excavation involved.
Party wall notice – before starting work, the building owner must serve the adjoining owner(s) with a party wall notice. The building owner doesn’t need planning permission before serving this written notice.
The building owner must give:
- two months’ written notice if the planned walls affect a party wall or boundary
- one month’s written notice for excavations.
The adjoining owners then have 14 days to agree or object. They can:
- Give assent (agree) in writing – but the building owner must rectify any problems if they occur
- Dissent (object) – in which case a party wall award will be needed. This is a report by a chartered surveyor detailing the planned works and a schedule of condition of the adjoining building(s). It will include photos.
The surveyor can act impartially for both owners – or each can appoint their own surveyors (but the building owner will have to pay the costs for all the adjoining owners).
The adjoining owners can appeal against a party wall award in the county court. They have 14 days from receipt of the award.
- Fail to respond – under the law in England and Wales, it is assumed that they have dissented and a party wall award is needed.
The adjoining owner can serve a counter notice asking for additional works to be done at the same time – but they must pay for these works.
Party wall agreement – the building owner cannot start work without a written party wall agreement that has been approved by ALL the adjoining owners.
These agreements are needed typically for loft conversions, property extensions and installing damp proof courses. But they are also required for:
- building a new party wall
- demolishing and rebuilding a party wall
- cutting into a party wall to insert a beam
- increasing the height or thickness of a party wall
- removing a chimney from a party wall
- underpinning a party wall.
A party wall agreement will include:
- the party wall award
- the schedule of condition of the adjoining building(s)
- details (and drawings) of the planned building works and the contractor’s public liability insurance
- indemnities by the building owner in favour of the adjoining owner(s)
- details of the surveyor(s)
- working hours and the time limit for the building project.
Arguments between neighbours over boundary lines, walls and fences can quickly escalate if not dealt with promptly.
Sometimes a boundary dispute is the tip of the iceberg; the latest stage in a deep, long-running feud between neighbours.
It pays to take legal advice as soon as possible to prevent a minor disagreement over the position of a new fence from becoming an expensive and stressful court case that neither side really wants.
Find out how to deal with boundary disputes quickly and cost effectively.
Tackling Noisy Or Anti-Social Neighbours
Taking private legal action can be a costly way to deal with noisy or anti-social neighbours. We recommend that you first contact your local authority (or in serious cases the police).
How to complain about noise or nuisance in:
- Bournemouth (BCP Council)
- Poole (BCP Council)
- Christchurch (BCP Council)
- Rest of Dorset (Dorset Council)
- The New Forest (NFDC).
Get Expert Legal Help
Contact Coles Miller’s experienced litigation solicitors for expert legal advice how to deal with a residential property dispute.