Party wall issue

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    Party wall issue

    Hello,
    I own a long lease on a flat (163 years remaining) in a victorian converted building. I know the freeholder who lives at a different address and all 5 flats in the building are owned by leaseholders like myself.
    The council advised me last week of an application for a planning permission made by the freeholder of the building next door to extend the building by erecting a rear storey above the existing one. I don't have an issue with the proposal and don't intend to object. The council plans to make a decision on or shortly after 12 December. I today received a letter from the surveyor in charge of the project to advise me to appoint a party wall surveyor to assess the existing condition of my building so that any damage caused by the works would be addressed by the neighbours and any known or historic damage previous to the works would not. The storey they want to build is at a higher level than my flat and not directly adjacent to my flat, although within short distance. I don't understand why I am asked, as leaseholder, to appoint a party wall surveyor to assess the existing condition of my property when I would have thought any damage caused by the works would directly affect the external side of the walls which I believe belong to my freeholder. Should they not contact my freeholder instead of, or in addition to, me?

    Also, the letter says that I have 2 weeks to take action from the date of the notice. I cannot deal with this within the advised timeframe as I have other urgent things going on which must take the priority. If I am indeed required to appoint a party wall for my flat, what would happen if I do so in early December knowing that they can't possibly start the works until permission is granted by the council (12 December at the earliest). Should I respond to this letter and say that I will deal with it in early December, if I indeed have to appoint a party wall and this has nothing to do with my freeholder, or not bother and contact them in early December when I may have appointed a party wall surveyor (again if I have to and not my freeholder)?

    I thank you in advance for your help.

    #2
    We had a similar situation happen in our building (share of freehold) with the hotel next door contacting the leaseholders and not the freeholder. We informed them that they needed permission from the freeholder so the company appointed a part wall surveyor . The surveyor inspected the entire building both externally and internally.

    If your freeholder is not proactive, then I would appoint your own. All it involves is a phone call to a party wall surveyor and they will deal with all matters from then. It is essential to do.

    Comment


      #3
      I'm no expert but I would write back and make it clear that you insist they do the party wall through the freeholder or they cannot proceed.
      I would also state clearly that the notice they have provided is insufficient and give your preferred (and reasonable) schedule.

      Record the delivery of your correspondence and alert your freeholder and also the council which you should mention in your letter to ensure they take you seriously.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for your responses. I sent an email to my freeholder this morning and am awaiting a reply. It really sounds to me like this is for my freeholder to deal with. All leaseholders have received the same letter (I checked with my neighbours) and I don't think they've contacted the freeholder.

        Comment


          #5
          I would also contact the surveyor who sent you the letter and give them the details to contact the freeholder. It is much easier for you and them if there is one surveyor appointed for the entire building.

          Comment


            #6
            This might help for a general overview:
            http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/upl...in_booklet.pdf

            Comment


              #7
              Keeping things brief.

              The replies so far are not correct.

              The linked booklet is a good outline but is riddled with minor inaccuracies and omissions.

              My comments below refer specifically to terms and expressions with regard to the Party Wall Etc Act 1996.

              You are classified as an Adjoining Owner therefore formal Notice is legally required to be served on you. As your FH is also the FH of the property being altered then Notice is not required to be served on them. If they weren't then they would require separate Notice. In respect of the Act the FH - as the person carrying out the works - is refered to as the Building Owner.

              Assuming that the Notice is valid then you have to respond, under statute, within 14-days. If you do not then you have legally deemed to have 'dissented' and a Party Wall Award is required. This is prepared by a Party Wall Surveyor.

              You should be very clear on and understand that a Party Wall Surveyor's Duty of Care is to the physical property and not to any person.

              Leasehold flats [or any leased property] raise a whole host of issues when it comes to Party Wall matters - mainly to do with demised areas and any entitlements to compensation (oddly enough I'm dealing with such circumstances now).

              I would strongly urge you, as a group of leaseholders, to appoint a single person to act as either the Agreed Surveyor or as the Adjoining Owener's Surveyor to the flats in your property.
              There is always scope for misinterpretation.

              If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

              Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

              Comment


                #8
                mk1fan,

                The freeholder of the building where I live is different from the one who owns the building next door and which is to be extended. So my understanding is that the freeholder of my building needs to be contacted by the party wall surveyor appointed next door and sort it out between them. I only own a long lease on a flat and the proposed extension is not directly adjacent to my flat, but within close distance. So we are really talking about external walls here which I don't own. So why should I coordinate the whole thing? To me it's my freeholder's responsibility to take care of his building.

                I will be away on business for a little while so if they want to inspect the inside walls of my flat they'll have to wait until I'm back. There's nothing I can do about that.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by bbva View Post
                  I would also contact the surveyor who sent you the letter and give them the details to contact the freeholder. It is much easier for you and them if there is one surveyor appointed for the entire building.
                  That's what I have done and I also furnished my freeholder with a copy of my letter to the next door's surveyor.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by mk1fan View Post
                    The linked booklet is a good outline but is riddled with minor inaccuracies and omissions.
                    V alarming to hear!
                    I was planning on using it as a guide for some works I hope to undertake.
                    Is there anything in particular you would point out?

                    Thanks v much, Ad

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Sorry folks, been ill for the last few days and not been too 'compus'.

                      VLL,
                      Sorry to have misunderstood your post as to the FH's. There being separate FHs then yes Notice needs to be served on the FH of your building too. You still require Notice as the works could effect your demise - do you not lease the plaster and decoration?

                      As for you 'coordinating' things. You have misunderstood. Given the numbers of Adjoining Owners involved it would be very inefficient for all parties to each appoint a Surveyor. Not to mention the complexities of resolving any damage issues or indeed the unnecessary fees. An single 'Agreed Surveyor' would coordinate the process.

                      You do have the option to 'consent' to the works in which case you'd not need to appoint a surveyor. However, you'd still need to provide access for the FH's appointed Surveyor to carry out a Schedule of Condition. And if damage does occur you'd have no direct proof that it was caused by the works (you'd have no entitlement to the FH's Award).

                      Ad,
                      You're better off buying the Pyramus & Thysbe Club book on the Party Wall etc Act 1996 - Amazon have plenty.
                      There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                      If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                      Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by mk1fan View Post
                        You are classified as an Adjoining Owner therefore formal Notice is legally required to be served on you. As your FH is also the FH of the property being altered then Notice is not required to be served on them. If they weren't then they would require separate Notice. In respect of the Act the FH - as the person carrying out the works - is refered to as the Building Owner..
                        I agree with you and have been explaining as much to lawcruncher on another thread. In this case however your malady might have missed that the person carrying out the work is in fact the freeholder of the building next door, not, as I read your post and reply, the same freeholder,
                        As your FH is also the FH of the property being altered then Notice is not required to be served on them
                        and that the work does not involve linked or shared structures-buildings are it seems seperated.

                        If of course the leases are structured so that each flat has ownership of and or responsibility for the ( or part of) exterior or structure, then the notices are correct.
                        Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I mis-read the OP that the freehold to both buildings was owned by the same person.

                          As they are not then Notice is required on the Adjoining FH.

                          Irregardless of whether the lease demises the structure to the Lessee, Notice should have been served on the Lessee.

                          I don't see how you've determined the works are not linked or shared structures and separated.
                          There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                          If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                          Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                          Comment

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