Chris BeltonBy Chris Belton|November 6, 2023|In Party Wall Advice

Introduction

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is a crucial piece of legislation that governs the rights and responsibilities of property owners when carrying out building works that may affect party walls, boundaries, or structures shared with neighbors. One of the fundamental aspects of this Act is the provision for “Rights of Entry” under Section 8. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of Section 8 and explore the rights and procedures associated with it.

Section 8: A Legal Framework

Section 8 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 lays down the legal framework for the rights of entry for building owners, allowing them access to adjoining properties in certain circumstances. These rights of entry are an essential aspect of the Act, ensuring that building work can proceed smoothly and without unnecessary delay.

Rights of Entry: When are they required?

Rights of entry may be necessary when carrying out work in the following circumstances:

  1. Excavations adjacent to a neighbouring property.
  2. Building or repairing a party wall or party fence wall.
  3. Constructing new walls on the line of junction.
  4. Cutting into a party wall for various purposes.
  5. Inserting a damp-proof course into a party wall.

It is important to note that these rights of entry are only applicable to the extent necessary for the work in question and should be carried out with minimal inconvenience to the adjoining owner. It is also important to remember that the rights of entry only apply to notifiable works under the Act and that a compliant party wall notice must first be served in order for the rights to be available.

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Notifying the Adjoining Owner

Before exercising any rights of entry, the building owner is legally required to serve a formal notice to the adjoining owner. The notice must contain specific details about the proposed works, including their nature, timing, and the extent of the rights requested. This notification provides the adjoining owner with an opportunity to consent or dissent from the proposed works.

Consent or Dissent: Adjoining Owner’s Response

Upon receiving the notice, the adjoining owner has several options. They can either:

  1. Consent to the proposed works: In this case, both parties should agree on the terms and conditions for the rights of entry. This may include discussions on access times, compensation, and the provision of additional safeguards to protect their property.
  2. Dissent: If the adjoining owner disagrees with the proposed works or the terms of access, they have the right to dissent. This disagreement can trigger the appointment of a surveyor or surveyors to resolve the dispute.
  3. No Response: In some instances, the adjoining owner may choose not to respond to the notice. In such cases, the Act provides a mechanism for resolving disputes. In such cases, if no response is received within 14 days, the adjoining owner is deemed to have automatically dissented, and a dispute begun, which will be resolved by surveyor through an award.

Rights of Entry: Key Considerations

When exercising rights of entry under Section 8 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, several key considerations should be kept in mind:

  1. Access Times: The building owner should schedule access times that are reasonable and minimise disruption to the adjoining owner.
  2. Compensation: If the adjoining owner’s property is damaged or they incur expenses due to the work, they may be entitled to compensation. This should be addressed in the agreement between the parties.
  3. Safeguards: Both parties should agree on measures to protect the adjoining owner’s property during the works. This may include reinforcing structures, providing insurance, or taking other precautionary steps.
  4. Surveyors: In cases of disagreement or dissent, the appointment of surveyors may be necessary to resolve disputes and ensure a fair and impartial assessment.

Notice Requirements for Rights of Entry under Section 8

Where entry onto an adjoining premises is required under Section 8, the person carrying out the works must give at least 14 days’ written notice to the adjoining owner. The only exception to this is in the case of an emergency, in which case such notice as may be reasonably practicable should be given. Admittedly, this could be very brief, and therefore consideration needs to be given to the urgency of access. Where there is potential risk to the adjoining property, or people, then it may be reasonable for immediate access to be given.

What if a neighbour refuses entry?

If an adjoining owner refuses entry, they should also be aware of their legal obligations and the consequences of preventing ass.

There may be cases where an adjoining owner does not want people accessing their property. In such cases, where appropriate notice has been given under the Act, then it is an offence for them to prevent entry, and this is confirmed in Section 16(1) & (2) of the Act.

What if there is no one in and the property is locked up?

In the event that you cannot gain access onto the adjoining property having served notice under Section 8, then you may break open any fences or doors in order to enter the premises so long as you are accompanied by a police constable.

Conclusion

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 plays a vital role in safeguarding the interests of both building owners and adjoining owners when undertaking construction work that affects party walls or shared structures. Section 8, outlining the rights of entry, is a crucial component of this legislation, ensuring that necessary access to adjoining properties is obtained with due consideration for the rights and concerns of the neighbours.

By following the procedures set out in Section 8, both building owners and adjoining owners can work together to reach mutually agreeable terms and minimise disputes, fostering a spirit of cooperation and understanding while maintaining the integrity of the built environment. It is essential for all involved parties to be aware of their rights and responsibilities under this Act to ensure that building projects proceed smoothly and in compliance with the law.

To find out more about understanding the Rights of Entry under the Party Wall act and much more, dive into our latest blogs to get the lowdown on party walls. Whether you’re dealing with construction or legal stuff, we’ve got you covered.

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