Problems with Party Walls: Who Owns a Party Wall?

By | February 11, 2018

Most people living in towns or cities never think about the fact that we share common elements with our neighbours, from patios, squares, entrances to garages … and of course, party walls.

  1. What is a party wall?

Expert party wall surveyors in Essex explain that a party wall is a common wall (or walls) that separates two closed properties from different owners. Simple, right? Unfortunately, party walls can usually lead to a lot of problems when the party wall has some kind of problem. It is normal that each of the owners wants the problem to be fixed by the other.

  1. To whom does the party wall belong?

The simple answer is – to both owners of the adjacent properties, equally.

  1. Who has to repair any problems associated with the party wall?

And this is when everything gets complicated. Much depends on the nature of the damage to the party wall, its cause, and if the proper legal protocols have been followed if it is in relation to work recently carried out on the wall.

The need for expert advice

This is where it becomes essential to seek expert and impartial advice. Normally, this is best done by arranging a chartered building surveyor to inspect the party wall and the suspected damage. The surveyor will be able to establish the severity and cause of the problem and then help in resolving any dispute that might have arisen about who is responsible for returning the party wall to good condition.

It is important to stress that if the damage is severe, then the integrity of both properties should be secured as a priority before dealing with other issues, such as who is ultimately to blame, or who must restore the wall to its previous condition.

Once the issue of responsibility has been clarified, it is necessary to evaluate if the problem reveals a serious problem with the structure that should be repaired to avoid the collapse of the wall and, possibly, the two adjoining buildings.

The Party Wall Act (1996) clearly sets out the procedures residents musty follow when any type of work is carried out on a party wall. The surveyor can help establish if the necessary steps have been followed correctly. This has a bearing on who is responsible for rectifying any subsequent damage caused to the wall in question.

If you live in the Chelmsford area and have a dispute about a party wall, your best option is to consult one of the various chartered building surveyors in Chelmsford and seek their opinion on the cause and extent of the damage. And then discuss possible solutions with the other parties involved (the other owner of the party wall).