I recently attended a Pyramus & Thisbe Club lunch, at my branch. A discussion was started about Section 6 (3) of the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
It appears that the club was divided under the opinion that the Building Owner, the person(s) undertaking the works has a legal right to underpin the neighbours’ property in order to facilitate their building works. It appears that some eminent surveyors are in agreement with this.
However, I disagree with this opinion. If you actually read the clause of the Act that this refers to, it appears very clear, that both conditions of “may”, and “and if required by the adjoining owner”, must be happening for any such action to take place. So unless the adjoining owner is in agreement with the underpinning, no such works can take place, or should take place. Hence, it is not even upto the party wall surveyors to take such determinations, and certainly not without discussing it with their respective owners, and possibly involving a structural engineer or two to make sure that it is necessary. However, the final say on the possibility of it happening remains, as it should in my opinion, with the adjoining owner, under the “and if required” statement under the Act.
I have provided the extract from the Act so all can see:
“ Section 6 (3) The building owner may, and if required by the adjoining owner shall, at his own expense underpin or otherwise strengthen or safeguard the foundations of the building or structure of the adjoining owner so far as may be necessary.” Crown Copyright
I am glad I got this off my chest. However, I feel it is important to remind everyone that the comments I make in this blog are my opinion, and should not be used as a basis of any legal definition or enactment, and the reader is advised to take their own legal advice for matters relating to their own circumstances.