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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25426
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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The Party Wall surveyors have asked me to contact a solicitor

Resolved Question:

The Party Wall surveyors have asked me to contact a solicitor to obtain an opinion as to whether the large 19th century garden wall that divides our properties, is jointly owned, my property or their property. I am expecting the solicitor to say that it is jointly owned as it straddles the boundary line. I understand that if it straddles the boundary line it cannot be knocked down without the agreement of both parties. Am I correct? If so can I build anything into the party wall agreement to ensure that it is rebuilt at my neighbour's expense, should they knock it down during the building work? My neighbour's adjoining neighbour does not want the neighbour's planned extension to straddle the boundary line on her side but the existing boundary wall on her side is breeze block. Does breeze block have any protection from demolition? Bit surprsed that the surveyors have asked me to seek a solicitor's opinion on wall ownership at my expense!
Finally my neighbour wants to build a shower room at 4th floor level. It will jut out from the property and one wall will be flush with and rest against an extension built on her house. Can she refuse to let the shower room rest against her extension?
Appreciate my questions have wandered on. Do please let me know if you require payment in addition to the £22 I have just paid.
regards, Henry
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

May I ask if the neighbour and you both accept that your dividing wall straddles the boundary line please or does one of you dispute this?

Customer:

Hello. I am consulting a solicitor at the request of the party wall surveyors. At present I am working on the basis that it straddles the boundary line. There are similar brick walls in other properties in the terrace and old maps show that either side of the wall was a small building (likely to be a wooden shed). I am now half way through the party wall process and I need to sort out what I could reasonably be asked for in a party wall agreement. I would be suprised and disappointed if either the solicitor or the surveyors were able to argue that the wall was wholly within the boundary of the applicant's property.

Customer:

Henry

Joshua :

Thanks. Does the neighbour claim that the wall is within your boundary?

Joshua :

Is the neighbour digging foundations within 3m of any of your buildings?

Customer:

The difficulty is that we have seen no proper plans. Within the house the neighbour intends to build down to foundation level n order to have more height at basement level. Her wish is to demolish the garden wall and build a new wall whch will be one of the walls for her extension. The party wall surveyor has indcated that if she cannot demolish the garden wall, she will want her extension wall to be within mms of the garden wall as a larger gap will be a home for rats and mice. The foundations of the extension are bound to be within 3m of my home.

Joshua :

Thanks

Joshua :

As you you will be aware if she is digging within 3 m of any of your buildings (or 6m if she is digging deeper than your foundations) she will need a party wall consent or award before she can proceed irrespective of the status of the garden wall.

Joshua :

In respect of the wall if it is within your boundary then it belongs to you and she cannot touch it without your consent. If it straddles the boundary then it is a party wall and can be the subject of a party wall award as it is a party garden wall.

Joshua :

As it is she that wishes to carry out the work it is not for you to establish the status of the wall in the event of a dispute; rather it is for her to do so. Accordingly you may simply state your position on the wall and advise the surveyor that if she disagrees then it is for her to estabnlish otherwies not for you.

Joshua :

You will be aware that you have a right to an independent surveyor to act for you unless you have already agreed to a joint surveyor, under the Party Wall Act if she is carrying out notifiable work which from what you say above she is.

Joshua :

If there is a dispute regarding the status of the wall then she can apply to establish the location of the boundary using the Land Registry's boundary dispute resolution service.

Joshua :

Notwithstanding the above if the work does proceed in one form or another you will wish to think carefully about where she builds in terms of futrue maintenance of the wall in question which is something your PWA surveyor can provide input upon.

Joshua :

A breeze block wall enjoys no special protection. Again it will belong to the persons land on which it is built and may be a party garden wall or a solely owned wall on the same basis as your own wall may be either of the above depending upon whether it straddles the boudary line or not.

Joshua :

Regarding the extension you refer to, could you clarify is this an extension belonging to another neighbour to that which wants to carry out the work?

Customer:

There are 3 proporties. My one, the neighbour who wants to do the building and her neighbour. The neighbour wh wants to do the building wants to rest a small extension at 3 floor level on a bigger extension already built by her neighbour. The neighbour will be offered compensaton but does not want the small extension flush aganst her extension. She would like to insist that the small extension does not touch her extension. Can she do this? There is a party wall agreement but I would like to be clear that the agreement cannot force me to agree to the demolition of the straddling wall (likely to be jointly owned) and that I can ask the applicant to put some money into an independently held fund and that, among other things, the money could be used to rebuild the wall should the wall be demolished or damaged during the building works. Thanks, Henry

Joshua :

Thanks. The far neighbour may refuse permission for your neighbour to build their structure using their extension for support or otherwise unless her already built extension forms the boundary wall between her property and the neighbour who wants to build. If her existing extension is built along (i.e. right up to her boundary) then it is a party wall under the Party Wall Act and it is possible, subject to the neighbour wishing to build complying with party wall requirements to use the existing extension for support

Joshua :

In these circumstances the existing extension neighbour would have the right for concerns she has to be addressed in any party wall award / agreement and of course jhas a right to an independent surveyor to represent her with regards XXXXX XXXXX issues.

Joshua :

Returning to your wall; as discussed above, this is a two stage process. Either you contend that the wall is built within your boundary in which case it is yours cand cannot be touched without your consent or failing which without an order from the HMLR adjudicator or county court determining that the wall is not entirely built on your land.

If you accept that the wall straddles the boundary or the neighbour obtains a determination that it is using the above procedure then it is a party wall and can be dealt with under the terms of a party wall agreement/award and in these circumstances you would highlight your concerns to your party wall surveyor so that such concerns can be dealt with by a party wall award.

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

Thanks. XXXXX take it that a party wall agreement/award could (llow the applicant to demolish that part of a boundary wall that is within my property. My understanding is that the neighbour could only demolish the side of the wall that lies on her side of the boundary. In the case of a tall 19th century brick wall it would be impossible to salami slice n this way. Have I got it wrong!

Joshua :

If the wall is a party wall as determined in the above manner then section 2(2) of the Party Wall Act does provide a right to demolish such parts of the wall as are necessary to enable the build to go ahead providing that the wall is suitably restored or made good afterward. To what extent the wall must be restored or made good is the subject of a party wall agreement/award.

Joshua :

The right to demolish subject as above is not limited to just her side of the wall if the wall is a party wall, but extends to the full width of the wall; however as above, the Act does not give a unqualified right to demolish - rather it gives rights to demolish where it is necessary to carry out the build and provides proportionate rights on your part to have the wall restored to a satisfactory state though not necessarily identically to how it was originally.

Joshua :

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?4

Customer:

Thanks. The applicant's wish is that the wall will be demolished and replaced by the side wall of her extension which will be higher than the existing wall. It would therefore be impossible to replace the wall asthe extension will be built on the party line. Were I to agree to this I would have no free standing wall and (I assume) lose the rights that I have over a party wall. Henry

Joshua :

The proposal is in principle permissable under the terms of the party wall act though if you can show that your property would lose a significant amount of light through its windows you may be able to seek to restrict the work on the grounds of loss of light into your property.

Joshua :

If she were to proceed with the proposal, her new wall that she builds would still be a party wall if it is built right up to her boundary which means you have rights under the Party Wall Act to attach things to the wall or even build onto the wall though more significant works such as the latter would require party wall consent in the same way that her present proposal requires.

Joshua :

Is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer:

I am a bit dismayed that the applicant can unilateraly demolish a large jointly owned 19th century brick wall, I could not see anything in the government booklets on party wall matters. Could you double check please. Surely her extension has to be built the other side of the wall. Thanks, Henry

Joshua :

It may be helpful if I just set out verbatim the relevant section from the legislation. There is certainly no question of her unilaterally doing anymajor work to the wall however. Anything more than knocking in a few nails and the like to the wall would constitute notifiable work if it is a party garden wall for which she needs either your consent of a party wall agreement/award.

Joshua :

Section 2(2) of the Act provides that a building owner shall have the following rights:
(a)to underpin, thicken or raise a party structure, a party fence wall, or an external wall which belongs to the building owner and is built against a party structure or party fence wall;


(b)to make good, repair, or demolish and rebuild, a party structure or party fence wall in a case where such work is necessary on account of defect or want of repair of the structure or wall;


(c)to demolish a partition which separates buildings belonging to different owners but does not conform with statutory requirements and to build instead a party wall which does so conform;


(d)in the case of buildings connected by arches or structures over public ways or over passages belonging to other persons, to demolish the whole or part of such buildings, arches or structures which do not conform with statutory requirements and to rebuild them so that they do so conform;


(e)to demolish a party structure which is of insufficient strength or height for the purposes of any intended building of the building owner and to rebuild it of sufficient strength or height for the said purposes (including rebuilding to a lesser height or thickness where the rebuilt structure is of sufficient strength and height for the purposes of any adjoining owner);


(f)to cut into a party structure for any purpose (which may be or include the purpose of inserting a damp proof course);


(g)to cut away from a party wall, party fence wall, external wall or boundary wall any footing or any projecting chimney breast, jamb or flue, or other projection on or over the land of the building owner in order to erect, raise or underpin any such wall or for any other purpose;


(h)to cut away or demolish parts of any wall or building of an adjoining owner overhanging the land of the building owner or overhanging a party wall, to the extent that it is necessary to cut away or demolish the parts to enable a vertical wall to be erected or raised against the wall or building of the adjoining owner;


(j)to cut into the wall of an adjoining owner’s building in order to insert a flashing or other weather-proofing of a wall erected against that wall;


(k)to execute any other necessary works incidental to the connection of a party structure with the premises adjoining it;


(l)to raise a party fence wall, or to raise such a wall for use as a party wall, and to demolish a party fence wall and rebuild it as a party fence wall or as a party wall;


(m)subject to the provisions of section 11(7), to reduce, or to demolish and rebuild, a party wall or party fence wall to—


(i)a height of not less than two metres where the wall is not used by an adjoining owner to any greater extent than a boundary wall; or


(ii)a height currently enclosed upon by the building of an adjoining owner;


(n)to expose a party wall or party structure hitherto enclosed subject to providing adequate weathering.

Joshua :

All of the above rights are subject to her making good all damage occasioned by the work to the wall or decorations.

Joshua :

Are you happy with the information I have provided to you above or is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?

Customer:

Thank you Joshua, Very helpful. 1 (e) seems to be the section that might justify demolition of a large sound 200 year old wall. However, unlike other sections it refers solely to a party structure which seems to be different to a party wall fence. Does this mean that the wall cannot be demolished using this section? If so what section would my neighbour rely on for demolishing a straddling wall. Would it be 1 (i) or does that relate solely to a party wall that does not straddle, ie, solely on the land of the neighbour. Is there any way that a party wall award could allow the applicant to demolish the wall without my consent?

Joshua :

The entire section deals with party walls or party fence walls (of which your wall is one from what you say). All of the above sections will apply wall if it is a party fence wall (i.e. straddling the boundary).

Joshua :

A party wall award can provide a legal basis to proceed to demolish against your wishes if this is what it provides for but you will be aware you can appeal a part wall award you wish to within 14 days of it being made to the county court

Joshua :

I hope that is helpful. If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Joshua :

I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you. Many thanks

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