An explanatory guide to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
PART FOUR : FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
37. Does the Act change who owns the party wall?
No. The Act does not change the ownership of any wall, nor does it change the position of any boundary. Boundaries can still run through the centre of a wall, so that each owner may technically own half of a wall. However, it may help in understanding the principles of the Act if owners consider themselves joint owners of the whole of a party wall rather than the sole owner of half or part of it. The Act sets out what rights an owner has in relation to works to a party wall and what he is obliged to do before he can exercise those rights.
38. Can the Act be used to resolve a boundary dispute?
No. The Act does not contain any provision that could be used to settle a boundary line dispute. Such disputes can be resolved through the courts or through alternative dispute resolution procedures (which may be simpler, quicker and cheaper), for example mediation, decision by an independent expert or arbitration.
39. Does the Act supersede common law rights?
Yes, but only in relation to works covered by the Act, and only when the correct notices have been given and the procedures correctly followed.
40. Does the Building Owner have to wait for the full one or two months after serving a notice before starting work?
No, so long as the Adjoining Owner agrees, in writing, to the work starting earlier than as stated in the notice.
41. What can be done to weather proof a narrow gap formed where a person is building on his own land alongside the external wall (e.g. an earlier back garden extension built up to the Adjoining Owner’s side of the boundary line?
It is good practice to prevent debris collecting in (or animals entering) the small gap between two adjacent independent structures and the Act allows for any works “incidental to the connection of a structure with the premises adjoining it”. There are several proprietary products that can effectively seal the gap between two buildings without having to cut into or permanently fix to either building. The Building Owner erecting the second structure would usually carry out this work.