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  • Writer's picturePaul Coward

To be (a Party Wall), or not to be? That is the question

Navigating the inherited Party Wall: A Guide for New Homeowners 

  

Introduction: 

Welcome to our blog, where we shed light on the often overlooked but crucial aspect of homeownership – party walls. If you've recently inherited or bought a new property and are wondering about the rights and responsibilities associated with the party wall, you're in the right place. In this article, we'll delve into the essentials of understanding party walls and the rights of your neighbours, who may wish to build onto them. 

  

Understanding the Basics: What is a Party Wall? 

A party wall is a shared wall or boundary that separates two adjoining properties. It can be a standalone structure, such as a garden wall, or part of a building, like the walls between semi-detached or terraced houses. When you inherit or become a new owner of a property with a party wall, it's essential to be aware of the legal implications and potential obligations that come with it. 

 

Determining whether you have inherited a party wall in a newly bought property without specific paperwork can be a bit challenging, but there are several signs and considerations to help you identify it. Here are some steps you can take: 

  

1. Property Survey: 

Hire a qualified boundary surveyor to conduct a thorough survey of the property. They can identify the structural elements and boundaries, including party walls. The survey report may provide information on shared walls, their condition, and any existing agreements related to them. 

  

2. Title Deeds and Property Plans: 

Examine the title deeds and property plans. These documents may contain information about shared walls, boundaries, and any agreements related to party walls. Pay attention to any notations or references that indicate shared ownership. 

  

3. Talk to Neighbours: 

Engage in conversations with your neighbours. They may have valuable information about the property and its history. Ask if they are aware of any shared walls or if they have experienced any party wall matters in the past. 

  

4. Historical Documents: 

Check for historical documents or records related to the property. Local archives, planning departments, or historical societies may have information about the construction of the property and any shared walls. 

  

5. Visual Inspection: 

Conduct a visual inspection of the property. Look for signs of shared walls such as walls that directly adjoin neighbouring properties, especially in semi-detached or terraced houses. Check for any features like shared chimneys or structures that may indicate a party wall. 

  

6. Local Authority Records: 

Contact the local building or planning department. They may have records of any party wall agreements or notices related to the property. Local authorities often keep documents related to building permits and construction history. 

  

7. Previous Owner or Seller Information: 

Reach out to the previous owner or the seller and inquire about the existence of party walls. They may provide insights into the property's history and any agreements in place. 

  

8. Professional Advice: 

If you are uncertain, consider seeking professional advice from a party wall surveyor. They can assess the property, guide you through the legal aspects, and help you understand whether there are party wall implications. 

  

The Rights of New Homeowners: 

As a new homeowner, you have the right to carry out certain works on your property, even if it involves the party wall. However, it's crucial to follow the proper procedures outlined in the Party Wall Act 1996 to ensure a smooth and legal process. Informing your neighbours about your intentions and obtaining their consent or serving them with a Party Wall Notice are key steps in the process. 

  

Neighbour's Rights and Building Onto the Party Wall: 

If your neighbours have plans to build onto the party wall or carry out excavation works near it, they are required to notify you in advance through a Party Wall Notice. This notice should detail the nature of the proposed works and their potential impact on your property. As the adjoining homeowner, you have the right to either consent or dissent to the proposed works. 

  

 Conclusion: 

Inheriting a property with a party wall need not be a cause for concern. By understanding your rights and obligations, as well as respecting your neighbours' rights, you can ensure a harmonious coexistence with those who share this structural boundary. If you find yourself in a situation where party wall matters become intricate, don't hesitate to consult a professional party wall surveyor to guide you through the process. 


Remember, clear communication and adherence to legal procedures are the cornerstones of a successful party wall agreement, ensuring a positive relationship with your neighbours and the long-term integrity of your property. 

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