Section 3 – Party structure notices
Party Wall etc. Act 1996
(1) Before exercising any right conferred on him by section 2 a building owner shall serve on any adjoining owner a notice (in this Act referred to as a “party structure notice”) stating—
(a) the name and address of the building owner;
(b) the nature and particulars of the proposed work including, in cases where the building owner proposes to construct special foundations, plans, sections and details of construction of the special foundations together with reasonable particulars of the loads to be carried thereby; and
(c) the date on which the proposed work will begin.
The notice must be sufficiently clear for the adjoining owner to understand what is proposed ( Hobbs v Hart & Grover). It is thought that, at a minimum, the notice should set out the section and/or subsection of the Act that the building owner is relying on, and in respect of each subsection, what works the building owner intends to undertake. A failure to date the notice may render it invalid (Bennett v Howell).
It is not necessary to serve notice if there is a written agreement with all parties authorising the works (sub-section 3 below; see also Bennett v Harrod’s Stores Limited) however an oral agreement over the garden fence is insufficient (Seeff v Ho) The notice must be served on the owners of each separate leasehold and freehold interest (Crosby v Alhambra Company Limited), even if they only occupy a handful of rooms in the building (Fillingham v Wood).
The notice must be served by all of the joint owners of the building owner’s interest in the land (Lehmann v Herman). It may be possible to serve notice on only one of two or more joint owners, but the modern law is unclear (Crosby v Alhambra Company Limited).
A landlord of a tenant building owner is not automatically a building owner themselves (Loost v Kremer). The notice (and any award) cannot be served on an appointed surveyor (Gyle-Thompson v Wall Street Properties) without prior express authorisation.
(2) A party structure notice shall—
(a) be served at least two months before the date on which the proposed work will begin;
(b) cease to have effect if the work to which it relates—
(i) has not begun within the period of twelve months beginning with the day on which the notice is served; and
(ii) is not prosecuted with due diligence.
It has been held that this period only applies where the adjoining owner consents, and not where a dispute has arisen and been determined by award (Leadbetter v Marylebone Corporation [No. 2])
(3) Nothing in this section shall—
(a) prevent a building owner from exercising with the consent in writing of the adjoining owners and of the adjoining occupiers any right conferred on him by section 2; or
(b) require a building owner to serve any party structure notice before complying with any notice served under any statutory provisions relating to dangerous or neglected structures.