Wall Act

Wall Act (PWA) Assignment 2020

Introduction

Under the Party Wall Act (PWA) (1996), the party wall agreement and award is considered to be a burden for many home owners who plan for building works for renovation or extension. However, in reality the Act provides right to both building owner and adjoining neighbours from the effect of building work if relevant procedure is followed in accordance to the Act.

The purpose of the report is to discuss the Party Wall Act 1996 in terms of its purpose, details, consequences of the violation, role of party wall surveyors, dispute resolution, right and remedies for the building owners and the adjoining owners. The information of these areas of the PWA 1996 is advised to the different clients of Bridges Surveyors who are facing different situations.

Thus, the report discusses the purpose of the Act and the procedure included under the Act and the consequences of commencing the work without giving notice to the adjoining owners who are likely to get affected form the work. It advised on the right and remedies that are available to the adjoining owners under the Act.

The report also advises on the steps that can be taken by the building owners and adjoining owners to settle the disputed related to surveyor fees/ charges and the damages that were not documented before the commencement of the excavation work.

Findings

Purpose and procedure of the Party Wall Act 1996

The purpose of the Party Wall Act (PWA) 1996 is to offer a support system for the owners  which includes both home/ building owners and adjoining owners to avoid and to resolve disputes that arises for boundary walls, party walls and for doing excavations work near the neighbouring buildings.

The PWA agreement is referred to as an award which is produced by the agreed surveyor or the owner’s party wall surveyor as an award document to act for the respective owners[1].

The PWA 1996 intent is to notify the adjoining owners in advance of the building works before its commencement as it may have an effect on the party wall structural strength or support function and might cause damage to side of the wall belonging to the adjoining neighbours.

Thus, it can be stated that the purpose of this act is to provide rights to both the owners (on both the sides of a common wall) and responsibilities towards each other as neighbours in planning and/ or performing building works under a relevant framework in England and Wales.

Under the procedure contained in the PWA 1996, the building owner needs to give the adjoining property/ home owners a notice of the building work and planning intentions before proposing to initiate the building work in a manner laid down and covered in the Act.

The PWA document includes a set of guidelines for the proposed work and how it should be progressed, a set of conditions and schedule for the adjoining property with current photographs and lastly, drawing needs to be given that show the proposed building works details[2].

The PWA 1996 contains building owner name, adjoining owner’s name that are likely to be affected by work, work to be notifiable and covered in the act, proposed start date and notice period, date and sign of the owner proposing the building work.

Notice can be served for up to two month’s period before the initiation of the intended work. The owner receiving a notice need to indicate the consent within a period of 14 days from the day referred in the notice under the subsection 7 of section 6 of the Act.

The dispute among the parties shall arise if owner have opposed from the given notice. This will lead to requirement of agreement and appointment of surveyor(s) to resolve the disputes.

Consequences of progressing building works without notice to neighbours

The consequences will be negative for the building work owner if the requirement of the act to serve a notice to the adjoining neighbours is not met/ followed under the section 2 and section 6 of the Party Wall Act 1996. This can result in boundary disputes and property damage matters disputes which can make this dispute a civil matter for the involved parties to resolve.

Progressing of the work without giving notice to neighbours, can result in any of the adjoining owners to seek or put a hold on the ongoing work with the approach of a court injunction. This can raise the need the legal proceedings and put a stay order and delay the construction work while increasing the cost outcomes for the building owner who commenced the work.

This will bring consequences of neighbours property damage claims, legal costs, costs to neighbours for their malicious and false claims. It can be added that without servicing notice, it will also lead to consequences of resolving the disputes only through the court lawyers and not by the Party Wall Surveyors.

Thus, without serving the need of notice to the adjoining neighbours, the first consequence comes for the building owner (Mrs. Langton) from breaking/ not following the law is that she will not be entitled to receive the protection under the Act as it will be lost.

This will effect in motivating claims form the adjoining neighbours for the malicious claims for damage to property and other harm apart from legitimate claims.

There are also chances Mr. and Mrs. Speldhurst obtain a court injunction for stopping the excavation work which leads to time delay and increase the cost of overall work.

In addition, the cost consequences can be increased if Mr. and Mrs. Speldhurst property gets damaged by the excavation which is unnotified work and these adjoining owners can sue Mrs. Langton for damage compensations in court under section 7 of the Act and for violation of the statutory duty as Mrs. Langton failed to comply with the PWA[3].

This can be related to the case of Crowley v Rushmoor Borough Council [2010] EWHC 2237 (TCC) where the adjoining owners claim for the partially collapse of the houses against the building party and was settled by the one of the involved building party (Crowley) under the Party Wall Act 1996 and also, later the other involved parties also contributed to Crowley under its liability[4].

In addition, Mrs. Langton can give notice retrospectively for the building work that has already been commenced as unnotified work.

Right and remedies available to owners for neighbour building works without agreement

In the situation of violation of the Party Act 1996, the neighbours (as adjoining owners) have the right to halt the ongoing building work. The neighbour can submit an application for an injunction to stop the work.

In the case, a part wall award was signed between Mr. Fordcome and Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow (neighbours) thus, the adjoining owners have right to apply to the County Court for ban/ order to close down Mr. Fordcome work and stop the party wall from taking down.

This is supported by the case of Gibson & Gibson v Frisby [2017] Bow County Court where Mrs Frisby excavations (within 3 m and 6m) was done without servicing notice in the property of adjoining owners, Mr. and Mrs. Gibson resulting in injunction and appointment of the surveyors under the Act[5].  Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow also have right to seek legal advice, ask the building owner to serve notice and ask to compensate for damages.

However, it is also advised to Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow that the cost incurred by passing through court will not form a part of the award as referring to the case of Reeves v Blake [2009] EWCA Civ 611 as the case highlight the Section 10(13) of the Act that reasonable costs towards an award made by the surveyor(s) shall be paid by the involved parties[6].

Thus, going via court means the neighbours has right to impose the compliance of the party wall award and new issue arising from this in terms of compensation claims or payables under section 7 of the Act from the putting down of Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow sides of party wall needs to be referred to the surveyor for the additional award.

This can be related to the case of Rodriguez v Sokal [2008] EWHC 2005 where it was stated that the compensation to be paid by the building work owner for damage to adjoining owner party needs to be consigned solely to the party wall surveyors for a extra award. Thus, the remedy available to Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow is court injunction under the Act and to make claim against the building owner for the breach of statutory duty and payment of compensation as debt.

Resolving issue of building owners and adjoining owners for building works and party wall agreement

As the excavation is within 3 metres the Section 6(1) of the Party Wall Act is applicable for the adjacent excavation. Also, in the given situation, considering the PWA 1996, the resolution of disputed among the building owners and adjoining owners may be straightened out by the means of an award.

This is under the section 10 of this Act that is concerned with the dispute resolutions and the procedure of award for the works covered under the Act.

The surveyors are responsible for concluding the award. The surveyors can be two surveyors chosen be owner and neighbour or an agreed surveyor representing both the disputed parties.

As Mr. and Mrs. Newlands party wall surveyor do not agree on the charges with Mr. and Mrs. Boxhill appointed surveyor, the step of involving and selecting the third surveyor under the section 10(1)(b) of the PWA can be taken by the owners. Here, a third surveyor’s involvement can be considered under the PWA to resolve the dispute of charges in the situation of unreasonable attitude of the Mr. and Mrs. Newlands appointed party wall surveyor.

The following step will be to make the selection in writing. On selection, the two appointed surveyor will leave the matter upon the selected third surveyor to resolve the dispute as it a statutory duty under the section 10(11) of the Act[7].

For claiming for the damage to shrubs by the adjoining owner under section 7 requires to include the damage, loss or inconvenience that can be experienced by the adjoining owners during the building work or as a result of the works when the award and notice was made.

Conclusion

It can be summarised that the purpose of the Party Wall Act 1996 is to protect the building owners and adjoining owners from disputes arising from re-building or extensions for party walls, boundary walls and excavations.

It provides a relevant procedure that requires compliance by the owners in form of notice, agreement and awards. There are negative consequences for the building owner

(Mrs. Langton) if she proceed with the building work wotouit serving notice in terms of violation of the Act, legal costs arising form boundary disputes and property damage matters, risk of receiving a court injunction, increase malicious and false claims from adjoining owners and increase the building work cost and time delay.  It is concluded from the case of

Mr. Fordcome for changing work intention and proceeding change in work without giving notice to adjoining owners, Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow that these neighbours have right to seek legal advice and to apply to the court stopping the work and the remedy available to them is a court injunction and sue Mr. Fordcome for compensation for damages.

It is concluded for the case of Newlands and Boxhill that the step to resolve disputes can be to select a third surveyor under the section 10(1) (b) of the PWA.

 

[1] Bickford-Smith, Stephen, and Colin Sydenham, Party walls: law and practice (Jordan Pub 2009)

[2] Paul Chynoweth, The party wall casebook (John Wiley & Sons 2008)

[3] Paul Chynoweth, ‘Unnecessary inconvenience and compensation within the party wall legislation’,Structural Survey, [2000] 18 (2), 99-105

[4] Matthew Cousins, Architect’s Legal Pocket Book (Routledge 2011)

[5] Philip Antino, Injunction stopping breach of Party Wall Act, APA Property Services [2017] < http://apaproperty.com/blog/2017/5/11/injunction-stopping-breach-of-party-wall-act  > accessed 05 February 2019

[6] Alastair Gill, ‘The Party Wall etc. Act 1996: Who meets the cost of an injunction?,’ Journal of Building Survey, Appraisal & Valuation [2013] 2(3), 226-232

[7] Department for Communities and Local Government, Party Wall etc. Act 1996, [2016] <https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/523010/Party_Wall_etc__Act_1996_-_Explanatory_Booklet.pdf>  accessed 05 February 2019

 

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