The Council Have Asked me for a Party Wall Notice

by The Party Wall Surveyor

I have just added an extension to my house which is completely in my part of the property and I made retaining wall, which again is in my boundary and is 1 metre deep and 1/2 metre wide , the adjoining property which is a council house and a tenant has been in it for 2 years.

Before starting I asked the council  whether i needed to serve party wall notice to them they said that the adjoining house which is almost 6 metre away and on higher ground , is under a private firm and i cant serve notice to the council ,  I served the notice to the current tenant and they happily signed it and returned it back with in 14 days, now 6 months down the line from my first query and after 3 months of finishing all the work , some one from the council has replied to my original email, saying that they think i need to serve 3/6 party wall notice to them as the 45 degree angle from the bottom of the adjoining property might cut across the lowest part of my foundations , I am completely baffled at this untimely email and don’t have a clue to what to do next , I just go the mail 2 days ago and am afraid of answering it as they might call it a dispute and ask for demolishing the whole thing.

Please guide me:

  1. Am I now in dispute with the council?
  2. How to go about answering this email, and do I tell them that work has already been done?
  3. Can I serve a retrospective notice?
  4. Will I need a surveyor and how much all this might cost?

Answer

If the work has been completed you cannot serve a notice under the Party Wall Act or have an award prepared – the Act does not allow for retrospective awards. There are no penalties for ignoring the Party Wall Act and the only remedy open to adjoining owners is an injunction to stop the works. As the works are complete the time for that has passed. 

If any damage has been caused to the Adjoining Owner’s property as a result of your works you will be responsible for the cost of repair. If a dispute arises relating to damage it could potentially be dealt with by surveyors appointed under the Act – I say ‘potentially’ as the case law is not clear on this point. However, if the adjoining owner’s property is almost 6 metres away from your extension and on higher ground it wouldn’t have been notifiable under the Act anyway.  

The notice that you served on the council tenant may have been invalid as they would only be an ‘owner’ as defined by the Act if their tenancy agreement is for longer than 12 months (which is not common). If notice was required it should have been served on the Local Authority.