Being legal documents, party wall notices must be ‘served’ and the acceptable methods of service are set out is section 15 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
Service by Hand
Sometimes our clients prefer to hand deliver their party wall notices as it gives them an opportunity to add a personal touch to the legal process.
However, the Act specifies that the notices must be delivered ‘in person’ so if the adjoining owners happen to be out they must not be pushed through the letter box.
Service by Post
When we serve notices on behalf of our clients we use the Royal Mail. The Act specifies that documents must be sent to the adjoining owner’s ‘…. usual or last-known residence or place of business in the United Kingdom’.
An adjoining owner’s ‘usual or last-known residence’ will generally be the correspondence address noted on the Title Register but not always. If the official correspondence address is no longer valid, such as c/o a company that no longer exists, another method of service should be used (see below).
When the Adjoining Owner is Not Known
There will be occasions, such as with un-registered property or a property that has recently been sold, where it’s not possible to find out who owns an adjoining property. Such a scenario has been anticipated in section 15(2) of the Act which confirms that a notice may be addressed to ‘The Owner’.
Notices addressed to ‘The Owner’ must not be posted but can be delivered by hand or, if there is nobody in to receive them, fixed to ‘… a conspicuous part of the premises’. When we use this method of service we’ll generally attach the notice to the front door of the property using a thumb tack and take 2 photos; one close enough to show the text of the notice and another showing the notice in context.
Service by Email
The Act was amended by the Electronic Communications Order in 2016 to allow service of documents, including notices, by email. While this is very helpful when serving documents later in the process (such as further notices and awards) it’s of limited benefit at the start as the building owner would have to know the adjoining owner’s email address and the adjoining owners has to have confirmed ‘… a willingness to receive the notice or document by means of an electronic communication’.
If you live in the Cambridgeshire or north Essex area and require advice on serving party wall notices, or any other aspect of party wall procedures, you’re welcome to contact us on 01223 620755 or via email.