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When competing legal rights clash, disputes can quickly follow. Party walls are a common area of contention between neighbours.
A party wall is one which you share with your neighbour. Both you and your neighbour will have certain legal rights concerning the party wall, and it can lead to problems if these rights are not respected.
As with other kinds of property disputes, an otherwise amicable neighbourly relationship can flare up into a legal stand-off over a party wall. The flashpoint is when one party decides to carry out work to, or near, the wall in question. The Party Wall Act 1996 provides a legal framework for any works involving significant changes to the wall.
Truth Legal’s expert property litigation solicitors can advise you on your rights and responsibilities relating to your party wall.
Whether your neighbour is carrying out work on a party wall, or you want legal advice to avoid a dispute over work that you are planning, we can assist. And, if a dispute does arise, our experienced property solicitors will be there to fight your corner.
Call us today to arrange a consultation and get clear advice and guidance on your legal position.
What is covered by the laws on party walls?
The Party Wall Act 1996 covers a range of structures and situations. These include:
- Free-standing walls, such as a garden wall (fences are not included).
- The walls of a building, such the shared walls of a terraced house.
- ‘Party structures’, such as the floor/ceiling between flats.
A party wall can run along the boundary between properties on both parties’ land or, in certain situations, can also be a wall which is completely on your land or on your neighbour’s land.
The Party Wall Act 1996 also covers different kinds of work on party walls:
- Repairs and alterations to an existing party wall.
- Construction of a new party wall along a boundary.
- Excavations within certain distances of a party wall.
What are my rights and duties in relation to a party wall?
You have the right to be notified in advance of any work being carried out to a party wall. If your neighbour begins work without providing you with the correct notification beforehand, you can apply to the court for an injunction to stop the work.
Your neighbour has the same rights, so it is important to be aware of them before you start any work on a party wall yourself.
Disruption and inconvenience to the other owner of the wall must be kept within the bounds of what is necessary. There are provisions that one party’s workmen should be allowed access to the other party’s land if the work to the wall cannot be completed in any other way. For non-emergency work, the inconvenienced party must be given notice of this beforehand.
Whilst this provides a brief overview of the main rights and responsibilities relating to party walls, the full legal provisions are much more comprehensive and detailed. A party wall dispute may also be further complicated by other kinds of property disputes such as:
- Rights of way
- Rights to light
- Restrictive Covenants
Seeking specialist legal advice is the best way to ensure that you avoid any pitfalls, and are aware of possible problems before they arise. This should be done before you begin or financially commit to any work relating to a party wall.
For example, the Party Wall Act sets out the procedure for obtaining a surveyor’s report. If this is followed and a report is obtained before any work to a party wall is started, it can help to manage the work, protect you from liability, and minimise the chance of damage to the wall.
How can Truth Legal help?
The right legal support is crucial in property disputes, and should be arranged as early as possible. Taking action without specialist advice can carry many risks. For example, seeking to stop your neighbour’s work on a party wall through an injunction could mean you are responsible for their legal costs if your reasons are invalid.
By instructing Truth Legal, you will have expert guidance on hand. We pride ourselves on providing an ethical and effective legal service.
We are based in Harrogate with presences in York, Manchester, and London.
How much will our service cost?
Truth Legal offers affordable fixed fees or hourly rates – allowing you a flexible and cost-effective service. You may also have Legal Expenses Insurance on your home insurance policy allowing some or all of your legal costs to the paid by your home insurance.
For clear, expert guidance tailored to your situation, contact Truth Legal today.