Kingston Surveyors Investigate Replastering and Party Wall
Our Kingston Surveyors at Prinsegate recently researched a Court of Appeal case known as Grand v Gill . The occupier, Tanya Grand, brought a case against her landlord, Param Gill. The case was for damages resulting from breaches of the landlord’s repairing obligations under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Damp and mould was found throughout the flat. There was also water ingress and an inadequate boiler.
Plaster as Part of the Structure
Damages were awarded for defective plaster in the wall of the living room and kitchen ceiling. The question posed to the Court of Appeal was whether plaster damage could be characterised as damage to the “structure”. If this were the case, then the landlord would be obliged to remedy the defects. A number of similar cases were reviewed and it was found that one judge defined what “part of a structure” constitutes. It is a material or significant element in the overall property construction.
Taking lath and plaster as an example, this was seen by the judge to form an essential part of the creation and shaping of a ceiling. External plasterwork was included as essential to providing a smooth construction finish on which decoration would be applied. Therefore, plasterwork is deemed as part of the property structure.
See more on re-plastering: http://www.bdma.org.uk/Technical/Papers/Replastering
Repairs & Defects
Our Kingston Surveyors concluded that any work to be undertaken to existing plaster on a party wall is then notifiable under the Act. This is because plaster forms part of the party wall structure. The relevant section is 2(2)(b), which describes a form of work that may require a party structure notice. It describes making good, repairing, demolishing or rebuilding a party structure. This is only where the works are necessary on account of want of repair or defect.
You can find the Act here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/40/contents
Does this then mean that a notice should be served if removal of plaster or re-plastering is taking place to a party wall? In accordance with the above, our Kingston surveyors argue that it is required. However, the de minimis rule may apply. This describes works that are so trifling that party wall procedures need not be invoked. A degree of discretion and expert opinion may be required here.
You would be hard-pushed to find Kingston surveyors recommending party wall procedures be followed for plaster alone. A neighbour hammering a small nail into the party wall plaster to hang up a photograph should not invoke the Act. However, extensive interior refurbishment works could, particularly if overhauling and replacing old plaster situated at the party wall. This is because such a degree of work can invariably result in at least minor damage occurring next door. Damage will often include hairline cracking or flaking of paintwork in ceilings or walls in close proximity. Our Kingston Surveyors are always mindful of carrying out a schedule of condition on the property to check existing against new damage.
For more information on following the correct party wall procedure, please visit our other blog post: https://prinsegate.com/party-wall-surveyor-surrey-team-serve-notice/