The first thing at Quatrefoils we do is look at your drawings and determine firstly whether or not you need to serve notice and secondly exactly what type of notices need to be served.

The first thing we would do is a land registry search to try and identify who the owners are of the adjacent premises. Whilst you may have lived next door to Mr and Mrs Jones for the last 10 years you might be surprised at the results of the land registry search as it is not uncommon for this to show different owners and for you to find out that your neighbours are in fact tenants.

The land Registry can assist in identifying freeholders and long­term tenants and should always be checked. You should also be aware that you need to serve notice on all owners and the term “owner” has a specific definition in the Party Wall et c act as somebody who has an interest in the property of one year or more. For this reason a typical assured short hold tenancy of one year would not be an owner but a person with a tenancy of one year and a day or three years for example would be an owner. It is interesting that a single property can have multiple owners.

Whereas you may see only one house next door to you, there could be leasehold owners and freehold owners both of whom require separate notice under the act and who can separately appoint their own surveyor’s.
On commercial premises you can even more owners with multiple leases ending up with the eventual freeholder so this can prove to be expensive. Not owners are recorded on the land registry, so whilst it is an excellent source of information it is not infallible.

Relatively short leasehold owners for example with a term of a couple of years may not be on the land registry nor would people who have recently purchased or who are under a contract to purchase as the land registry is not immediately updated. You should therefore ensure that notices are dealt with at an early stage in proceedings and not as so often happens at the last minute. There are minimum time periods for the service of notice which are one­month for an adjacent excavation notice and two months for Party Structure notices. You should therefore ensure you give plenty of time for the risk that unidentified owners may crop up.