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How long are Party Wall Notices Valid For?

Today, we will be looking in depth at the duration of validity of Party Wall Notices as stated in the Act. We will also cover other specific time periods that are given in the act on Party Wall Notices and clarify how to calculate these time periods.


The party wall etc. Act 1996 (the Act) requires notices to be served at least one month before the plan start date of the work for Line of Junction and Excavation Notices and at least two months for Party Structure Notices. Time periods of one and two months that are subsecquetly given in Section 1(5)(a), Section 1(6)(a), Section 3(2)(a) and Section 6(5) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 are considered as calendar months. *


Section 3(2) of the Act states;

A party strucutre notice shall – (a) be served at least two months before the date on which the proposed work will begin; (b) sees to have affect in the work to which it relates – (i) has not begun within the period of 12 months, beginning with the day, on which the notice is served; and (ii) is not prosecuted with due diligence.

If we break down Section 3(2)(b)(i); once served, the notice is valid for a 12-month period. THis 'validity' is more nuanced that one may initially think, and it is important to elaborate on the terms of this validity. If the Adjoining Owner consents to the Party Wall Notice that was served on them, then the Building Owner has 12 months from the date of the notice to start their works. The keyword here being start. The work can be intermittent and does not have to be completed within the 12 months. Section 3(2)(b)(ii) can be invoked if the works start within the 12 months.


Let us consider a scenario where the Building Owner serves a Party Wall Notice on the Adjoining Owner and then changes their mind about carrying out the work due to financial reasons. They are still adjoining owner to not respond to the notice yet, but to keep hold of it in case their situation changes. 6 months down the line, they are in a better of financial situation and they decide to resume the project. They now want a response to the Party Wall Notice from the Adjoining Owner. Assuming that no design change has occurred during the six months, the Party Wall Notice that was originally served is still valid to represent the nature of the proposed works, and for the Adjoining Owner to give their response to.


The 'validity' of a notice and the 'agreement' are independent serving a Party Wall Notice on the Adjoining Owner does not give automatic permission to the Building Owner to start their works. Written consent must be obtained from the Adjoining Owner.


Finally, if the Adjoining Owner dissents to the works and dispute arises, this timeline of 12 months starting the date of the notice becomes invalid. When a dispute occurs, a Party Wall Award has to be made in order to resolve the matter and it is typically 12 months from the date that the award is served on both parties that the works must be started. Upon the servies of an Award, the situation is akin to the work conesnted to under a Notice, with the distinction that the previously contested issues have now been resolved. In other works, a Party Wall Award is valid for 12 months (unless spcified otherwise in the Award).



 

*To calculate a calendar month, a standardised 30 or 31 day counting system should not be used. Rather, keep the day as it is and add two months onto the inital date. For example,

Inital Date: 15th January 2023

Add two Months: 15th March 2023


On a related note, when it comes to waiting for the Adjoining Owner's response to the Party Wall Notice, shorter timeframes such as '14 days' and '10 days' are in play, and these are measured in calendar days. This means that weekends are included in the calculation, but national holidays are not. This distinction is crucial for parties involved in the process to accurately adhere to the specified timelines and avoid any potential complications. Understanding these nuances and shows are smoother and more compliant execution of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.








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