A party wall is basically a boundary wall that is shared by two properties. The shared wall could be fully or partially shared between the two properties with only the shared part of the wall being considered as party wall. As per the law, a fully shared party wall is a type A party wall while a partially shared one is considered as a type B party wall. The occupants of the properties could be owners or even tenants. This means that even where the properties are owned by the same person but occupied by different tenants who share a common wall, such a wall is still considered as a party wall.
In England, the Party Wall Act of 1996 came into being as a result of a growing need to have either or both occupants of properties that share a party wall take legal responsibility for actions that may have caused any kind of loss to the other party. Due to the fact that the shared wall impacts both occupants of the adjacent properties, there are a number of things that require a notice and permission before they can be done to a party wall. Demolition, rebuilding, cutting into a party wall, underpinning a party wall are some examples of works that would require issuance of notice and request for permission before being carried out. These are works that have serious impact on occupants on both sides of the party wall. When undertaking light works such as fixing of shelves, electrical rewiring, painting, replastering and other such works you will not under law be required to give notice nor request permission.
Party Wall issues are however not restricted to construction and such works. There are also other issues such as noise which the Party Wall act helps to address. Those who may be
sharing a wall or ceiling could have a party wall agreement drawn up to resolve any issues that they may be having regarding noise from either of the occupants. Once the party wall agreement is signed, it is a legally binding document which is admissible in a court of law. However it is best to avoid going to such lengths and it would be in everyone’s best interest to have an informal agreement especially if the issue at hand is noise.
Though it may seem restrictive to have to get consent from your neighbor anytime you need to carry out some major construction work on your side of a Party Wall, the law relating to party wall has been of immense help especially for those with inconsiderate neighbors. Since the law clearly stipulates what you can and cannot do on a party wall without permission from the other party, this greatly has helped contain some neighbors who would otherwise be out of control. A Party Wall should not be a source of conflict or frustration. There are many buildings around the world that share a wall just like yours and even where a Party Wall Act does not exist, courtesy has always won for everyone.
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