The Party Wall Act

What is the Party Wall Act?

Out in 1996, the Party Wall Act was published to safeguard the rights of householders wishing to undertake building work which would affect the adjoining wall to neighbours, and of course, the rights of the neighbour.

The Act comes from legislation that has been in place in London for hundreds of years. It provides a framework for preventing or resolving disputes in relation to party walls.

The Facts

  • It applies to householders in England and Wales
  • It applies to ALL owners of the properties in question (i.e. the freeholders and leaseholders)
  • Notice must be given even when the work does not extend past the centre line of a party wall
  • Comes into play as well if there is excavation planned close to a boundary wall
  • The adjoining resident does not necessarily need to own the land on which the party wall stands
  • Things like drilling into the party wall do not need notice to be given to the adjoining owners

How do I serve notice?

It is best to discuss the proposed works with the adjoining owners with as much notice as possible as this will lessen the impact of the formal notice when it arrives. You will need to give them notice in writing about what you plan on doing. If you have already cleared it with them, the reply to the written notice is just a formality and they will probably readily give consent to the works.

There is no official form for giving notice but the letter should contain the following details:

  • The Date
  • Your own name and address
  • The address of the building to be worked on
  • A full description of what you intend to do
  • When you propose to start
  • A clear statement that it is a notice under the Provisions of the Party Wall Act

You may serve the notice via post, email or in person. You must serve notice at least 2 monthsprior to the work being started. The adjoining owner may agree to allow the works to start earlier but is not obliged to even when agreement on the works is reached. The notice is only valid for a year, so do not serve it too long before you wish to start.

What happens then?

A person who receives notice about intended work may:

  • give their consent in writing
  • refuse to consent to the works proposed
  • do nothing

If, after a period of 14 days from the service of the notice, the person who received it has done nothing, a dispute is deemed to have arisen. If this happens you will need to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor who will be impartial to mediate on the matter. If this happens, then you can contact us to advise further.

For more info you can download the official Party Wall Booklet here.