Information on the Party Wall Act

If you would benefit from instant advice directly from a party wall expert then please contact one of our team on 0207 138 2700 where a surveyor or technical advisor will be able to assist you with your enquiry. Below, we also provide outline information on the Act designed to support your understanding of the process.

The most common questions asked are listed below:

What is the Party Wall Etc Act 1996?

The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 makes provision for dealing with works that are or may be considered likely to affect or impact shared walls or structures or affect works to the boundary or below the ground in close proximity of any existing structures. The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 was extended from the original London Act and is designed to protect both the building and adjoining owners from potential damages or difficulties that may otherwise arise from the proposed works.

Am I the building owner or the adjoining owner?

A ‘building owner’ is the person who is proposing to undertake work that is considered to be subject to the Act. The building owner has responsibility to serve notice where necessary and may choose to do so independently or may choose to appoint a professional to serve any required notice/s.

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 as identified by the act, most commonly with a shared party wall/ boundary and or within 3 or 6 meters of the works proposed.

What works require a notice?

The Party Wall Etc Act 1996 should always be considered if any of the further described types of works are being undertaken and there are adjoining or neighbouring properties in close vicinity of any such 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 regulated and therefore notifiable under the Act, the building owner must inform all adjoining owners/ occupiers, through a valid notice.

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. This is not ideal and can make the process more difficult and stressful for all concerned, it is far better to have all relevant and necessary documentation in place prior to commencing any works.

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

It is always best to initially discuss any proposals as a Building Owner with Adjoining Owners before giving notice in writing so as to encourage a positive response and understating of what is proposed. Notices should then always be given in writing, in spite of any verbal responses indicated, 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?

To ensure you are fully aware of your rights and obligations it is recommended that you contact a specialist before replying. You can contact one of our surveyors, free of charge, 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?

Initially we would advise seeking professional confirmation of whether the Act applies to the works proposed. Our team can happily talk through this with you, free of charge. 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, the appointment must be made in writing. Any one appointed should not be party to the matter. As the Act requires specialist knowledge in order to be fully applied it is recommended that any person appointed is 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 and pride ourselves on our ethical and professional services.

What is an ‘Award’ or Party Wall Agreement?

An award, sometimes referred to as a Party Wall Agreement, 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. An Award is only necessary where a dispute arises from the notice or notices served. 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?

We recommend serving notice as quickly as possible in order to allow sufficient time for any disputes to be resolved. We recommend that at least one calendar month, preferably 2 calendar months are built into the overall programme for Party Wall Works. Whilst every effort if given to swiftly concluding all Party Wall matters it largely depends on the information that is provided to us. Furthermore, the notification period itself if dictated by the act and is either one or two calendar months, depending on the works proposed. 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.