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Planning for major changes to your property takes a great deal of time and effort, whether you are having a new kitchen installed or completely renovating a home. And whilst it can be easy for us to focus entirely on what is going to be created within the walls of the property, it is important not to forget of how the project affects others.

Neighbours with whom you share a party wall are protected under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, and it is essential that you take it into account when you are planning any changes that could affect walls. It is essential, then, that you serve a Party Wall Notice and get consent from your neighbours.

If this all sounds complicated, here we take a look at Party Wall Notices and what you need to know about them.

What is a Party Wall Notice?

Whenever you are interested in carrying out any work on your property that affects a wall, fence, or boundary line that is shared by one of your neighbours (known in this context as the ‘adjoining owner’), you must provide warning. This warning must be provided in a very specific way known as a Party Wall Notice.

The kind of work that you are carrying out could be anything from building a new wall, cutting into an existing structure, or making alterations. To send your Party Wall Notice you need to speak to an experienced party wall surveyor.

Who is served with a Party Wall Notice?

You need to serve any relevant adjoining owner with a Party Wall Notice before you can begin any work on your party wall. It is important to note here that there may well be more than one person who is legally considered the owner – for example, the freeholder, leaseholder, buyers that have exchanged contracts, and landlords should be served with a Party Wall Notice.

How can an adjoining owner respond to a Party Wall Notice?

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Once an adjoining owner has been served with a Party Wall Notice, they have three potential courses of action. If you have been served with a notice then it is a great idea to get in touch with an experienced surveyor to have a full understanding of what this means for your property and how it will affect your home.

The first option is that the adjoining owner can respond with written consent for the work to be carried out with 14 days of receiving it. You might assume that this is the chosen option in most cases, however, it is not. This is because giving permission for the owner to proceed with the project means that the won’t have any responsibility to deal with any damage resulting from the work.

The second option is far more common. Here the adjoining owner will dissent to the notice and will agree to share the surveyor with the owner who is serving the notice. This option helps to ensure that both of the parties are protected. To select this option the individual receiving the notice simply needs to allow the 14 days to elapse.

The third option is for adjoining owners who are not happy with the surveyor that has been appointed by the owner serving the notice. The adjoining owner dissents and appoints their own surveyor – in this case the owner must cover all reasonable costs. 

What happens is an adjoining owner doesn’t respond to the Party Wall Notice?

When the adjoining owner has been served the notice, they have a total of 14 days to respond. If they do not respond they are considered to have dissented to the works and will then receive a further notice with an extension of 10 days. This gives them the time to establish whether they will use the same surveyor, or appoint an alternative.

How can I persuade my adjoining owner to consent?

It is essential to gain permission from adjoining owners before any works can proceed. The adjoining owner can delay the process significantly if they are not happy with the works (although they cannot stall indefinitely). For this reason, you may need to take further steps to ensure that the adjoining owner is happy with the work.

Be sure to listen to the concerns of the adjoining owner and address them, and be ready to make compromises to ensure that you can get the work approved.