Who Do We Need to Serve Notice On?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

We have planning permission for an extension to our house and the side wall extension will lie on the border between our property and the property next door.

Having spoken to the neighbour I thought owned the side access and garden on the party wall boundary, I have found that in fact the side access and garden are communal to many houses and a block of flats, 10 properties in total. To add to the complexity these properties are owned by a housing association.  Who do we need to serve notice to?

Answer

It is not relevant who owns the garden or side access – you only need worry about structures (not including timber fences) that are within 3 metres of where you will be excavating.

If the structure that you refer to is within 3 metres and you are likely to be excavating deeper than its foundations you need to serve notice on the owners of those flats that are affected. If the block is owned by a housing association then the occupants are likely to be on Shorthold Tenancy agreements and not recognised as owners under the Party Wall Act. If that is the case you need only serve notice on the Freeholder who I assume is the Housing Association. You can get their details from the Land Registry, housing associations normally have a local  surveyor that they use in these situations.

Follow-up

Thanks for your quick response, can you confirm that this is absolutley always the case with all housing associations?  Specific to this housing association the ‘tenants’ are in what thy describe as ‘joint ownership’ i.e. they rent a part and also buy a part of the flat they are staying in, they therefore refer to themselves as ‘owners’ of their properties.

Answer

If the residents are part owners then those that are affected will be entitled to a notice. To try and keep the fees down I would recommend that you serve notice on just the Freeholder initially. Once that award is underway serve notice on the affected leaseholders explaining the situation in the hope that they will appoint the same surveyor as the Freeholder or consent.