Serving Notice on a Probate Property

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

We have planning permission for a ground floor extension to our Victorian semi. At the back of the house, and our adjoining neighbour’s house, are two small outhouses divided by an existing party wall. Ideally we would like to demolish the existing party wall at the same time as our outhouse and build the new wall for the extension along the boundary line. The owners of the adjoining house died nearly two years ago and the son doesn’t want to progress the probate process at present for tax reasons.

Who is the current legal owner of the property, to whom would notice need to be served and can party wall agreements be drawn up under these circumstances?

Answer

This is more of a legal question about ownership which would require  access to the Adjoining Owner’s papers to answer. There is however, a  way of dealing with it under the Party Wall Act.

Section 15 of the Act gives the Building Owner the option of serving  on ‘The Owner’ rather than a named individual or individuals. If you  address your notice to ‘The Owner’ you must hand it to somebody on the  premises (the son will do) or attach it to a conspicuous part of the  property (e.g. tape it to the front door).  One of 2 things will happen, either the son will consent to the work  or he will dissent and appoint a surveyor (he will be deemed to have  dissented after 14 days if there is no response). If he consents you are free to start your work and if he dissents it will be up to his  appointed surveyor to satisfy himself who the legal owner is.