Thursday, 16 April 2015
What Is The Party Wall?
Your tenants have a number of different duties. Aside from their responsibility to pay the right amount of rent to you at the regular allotted time and their duty to care for your property as well as can be reasonably expected, they also need to forward any correspondence that is addressed to you or that requires your individual attention.
This is of critical importance when said correspondence could be the difference between having a structurally sound house and one in the midst of structural damage. You must have adequate landlord home insurance to protect your rental property from structural problems that are impossible to anticipate.
The Party Wall Act 1996
The 1996 Party Wall Act is designed to protect property owners from undergoing damage as a result of alterations made to adjoining buildings. It is a common misconception that this only includes alterations to a party wall (the wall shared by both properties), but in fact the scope of the Act is much wider and can apply to adjacent excavations as well. In context the word "adjacent" applies to excavations within three or six metres of the boundary, depending on how deep the excavation work goes (deeper digs will increase the distance from the boundary that can be considered "adjacent").
If the owner of an adjoining property is planning building work that is included in the Party Wall Act, then notice is required to be addressed to you at your home address where possible or to "the Owner" and pinned to the (adjoining) property in a prominent position and not posted. Unfortunately, the people serving these notices are often laymen and are unlikely to be aware of the requirements. This means that the notices are likely to get posted all the same, where they will often sit on a hallway table awaiting your next inspection (by which time it may be too late).
Development work next door
It is important that you find out about any work that may affect your property to give you ample time to inspect the proposed work. You may even need to appoint a surveyor in certain circumstances, in order for you to be as confident as possible that your property is not being placed at risk. It is vital that you take action early when your property is placed at risk by a neighbour's development works, as your landlord insurance may not protect you if the problem was caused on another person's property.
Depending on the type of work being undertaken and the type of notice required, adjoining property owners might be given either one or two months' notice. The adjoining owner is given fourteen days to grant consent to the works in the first instance, but if nothing is heard from the adjoining owner then the developer often assumes that there is no objection and begins work regardless. This assumption is not one that will be made in the eyes of the law however, as not replying to the notice will be taken as a sign that you are dissenting and (subsequently) you must appoint a surveyor. A surveyor will prepare a party wall agreement.
If your neighbour has begun work covered by the Party Wall Act without first obtaining your permission, you have a number of options open to you.
You can ask them to stop work while you appoint a surveyor or you can apply for an injunction (if the notifiable part of the work is not yet complete, as injunctions cannot be made retrospectively). Obviously it would be better for everyone involved if you just received the notification at the appropriate time.
Having the appropriate landlords house insurance in place to protect your property in case of emergencies and in situations where another party is not responsible for damage done to your home. With HomeProtect you can get a competitive online quote for landlord contents insurance no matter how it is occupied.