Information on the Party Wall Act

If you would like instant advice from a party wall expert then please contact one of our party wall surveyors on 0207 138 2700 where one of the team will be able to assist you with your enquiry. Otherwise, general information on the Act and its application can be found below.

Our information pages seek to answer the following common questions:

What is the Party Wall Etc Act 1996?

The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 makes provision for dealing with works that are likely to affect Party Walls and has been extended to include excavations within close proximity to neighbouring structures. The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 exists to protect both the building and adjoining owners from potential issues that may arise from the proposed works.

Am I the building owner or the adjoining owner?

A ‘building owner’ is the person who intends to undertake work that is subject to the Act. It is the building owner who has responsibility to serve notice where necessary and may appoint a professional to serve notice on his behalf.

An ‘adjoining owner’ owns or occupies, with an interest greater than a one year tenancy, land, buildings, storeys or rooms that are in close vicinity of the proposed works.

What works require a notice?

Generally the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 should be considered if any of the following 3 categories of works are being undertaken and there are adjoining or neighbouring properties in close vicinity to the proposals:

  1. Works to build a new wall to or astride the Line of Junction.
  2. Work on an existing party wall or party fence wall. Various sorts of works include:
    • Underpin, thicken or raise
    • Make good, repair, demolish and rebuild on account of defect of the structure
    • Demolish a partition and rebuild a party wall conforming to statutory requirements
    • Demolish arches over public passages and rebuild conforming to statutory requirements
    • Demolish party structure to rebuild with sufficient strength
    • To cut into a party structure for any purpose
    • To cut away any footing or projection
    • To cut away or demolish parts of any wall of adjoining owner overhanging building owner land to enable a vertical wall to be erected
    • To cut into wall of adjoining owner to insert flashing or weather proofing
    • Necessary works incidental to the connection of a party structure
    • To raise a party wall fence
    • Reduce, demolish and rebuild
    • To expose a party wall to provide adequate weathering
  3. Works to excavate within 3 metres or 6 metres of the adjoining property (see section 6 of Act).

What works do not require a notice?

Works on a party wall that are so minor that service of notice is not usually necessary can include:

I am a building owner, what are my duties?

In proposing to undertake works which are notifiable under the Act, the building owner must inform all adjoining owners.

If the Building Owner fails to give notice in the proper way, the adjoining owner can seek to stop the work with a court injunction.

Under recent case Law it also considered possible and amenable to enter into an award retrospectively, particularly where damage has been incurred by works that were notifiable.

I am a building owner, how do I inform adjoining owners?

We recommend that the Building Owner discusses the planned works with adjoining owners before giving notice in writing. Notices should then be given in writing to adjoining owners that fall within the scope of the Party Wall etc. Act stating that it is a notice under the provisions of the act. The notices should be served in accordance with the relevant timescales set out in the Act and must contain specific information and appendances in order to be validated under the Act. It is possible to serve notice yourself but we would always advise that notices are checked by a party wall surveyor before service. Alternatively, you can ask your appointed surveyor to serve notice on your behalf.

I’ve been served with a notice, what should I do?

We recommend that you contact one of our surveyors who will offer advice specific to your case. You can either consent or dissent from the notice. When dissenting from the notice your party wall surveyor fees will be paid by the building owner, except in exceptional circumstances which will be discussed from the outset. Dissenting from the notice does not prevent the building owner from going ahead with the works instead simply invokes the Party Wall Act and gives you the protection that the Act affords.

My neighbour has started work but I have not received a notice, what can I do?

It is important that you seek advice in order to confirm if the works are notifiable. If notifiable works commence without a notice having been served we would initially recommend you speak to your neighbour and ask them to stop works whilst the matter is considered. One of our team will be able to assist you in this, free of charge. If your neighbour refuses to stop work or consider the act you can seek a court injunction to stop the works.

I am an adjoining owner, who can I appoint?

Any person can be appointed in writing but should not be party to the matter. It is recommended that they are well versed with party wall procedures. As members of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors, all of our team are specifically trained in handling party wall issues.

What is an ‘Award’?

An award is a legally binding document drafted and served by the appointed Surveyors, or Agreed Surveyor, to resolve the dispute that has arisen between the parties so as to enable the works to proceed. It includes how the work is to be carried out and details who is responsible for the costs of the works and any additional fees. In normal circumstances this is the building owner. An award often contains a record of the condition of the adjoining property before the works begin so any damage to the adjoining owner’s property can be properly attributed. It is a legally binding document used to resolve the dispute.

How long should the process take?

After service of the required Notice the adjoining owner will have 14 days in which they can dissent or consent to the notice. If they fail to reply dissent will be deemed (except under Section 1(2) where an automatic consent will occur). Once a dissent has occurred a surveyor will be appointed. This maybe an agreed surveyor or two surveyors appointed by each side. In normal circumstances the process should be complete within 1 calendar month, although this is dependent on the information available. Notice period for party structure works is 2 months and so even if an award is agreed sooner it is considered best practise to allow for the notice period to run before works commence.