Landlords are often judged harshly. Whilst they have every right to expect their tenant to pay their rent on time and to undertake a duty of care to the property as well as can be reasonably expected, the tenants are also expected to forward to their landlords any correspondence addressed for their attention which may be received at their address. Landlords often have semi-detached properties and need to be aware of building works which may affect their property – especially if this involves the Party Wall, the dividing line between properties. If anything untoward happens, resulting in damage to the structure, then this is extremely serious and potentially extremely expensive. This is one reason why landlords must have adequate landlord home insurance to protect the rental property from structural problems that are impossible to anticipate.
The Party Wall Act of 1996 is designed to protect property owners from undergoing damage as a result of alterations made to adjoining buildings. It is a common misconception that this only includes alterations to a party wall (the wall shared between two properties), but in fact the Act goes much further than that and can apply to adjacent excavations as well. In context, the word ‘adjacent’ applies to excavations within 3-6 metres of the boundary, depending on how deep the excavation work goes.
If the owner of an adjoining property is planning building work that is included in the Party Wall Act, then notice is required to be addressed to you at your home address where possible, or to “The Owner” and pinned to the adjoining property in a prominent position, and does not need to be posted. Unfortunately, the people who serve these notices are not always qualified to carry out the necessary legal proceedings and so letters get posted, which then sit unopened until the landlord next visits his rental property – by which time it may be too late. Food for thought!