Party Wall Act etc. 1996

Your guide to the Party Wall Act etc. 1996

How can the Party Wall Act help me avoid costly party wall disputes?

It is important that you understand exactly what the Party Wall Act aims to do.

Conway & Fisher are committed to helping building owners understand the requirements of the Act, navigate their way through their legal responsibilities and save time and money by avoiding cost.

The Party Wall Act was introduced to determine the rights and responsibilities for those on both sides of the ‘wall’. Whether you are planning the work, or it is your neighbour who is, the Act can help keep disputes to a minimum.

But how exactly does it work? And what does it actually mean in practice for you?

This guide aims to explain this in simple terms that are easy to understand. It is, of course, always more complex than an overview can account for but we are always happy to discuss your individual circumstances with you.

Who is affected by the Party Wall Act?

The Act only covers those living in England and Wales who are planning, or whose neighbour is planning, to carry out work on a party wall.

It is important to bear in mind that the Act works in tandem with, rather than replaces, requirements for Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval.

Similarly having Planning Permission does not mean the Party Wall Act no longer applies to you.

What is a party wall?

A party wall is not simply the wall that semi-detached houses share.

The term 'party wall' can also include:

  • Walls that are part of only one building but on the boundary line with other properties
  • Garden walls that are on or near the boundary line and separate properties but are not part of any buildings
  • Floors and ceilings of flats
  • Excavation works that are carried out near to a neighbouring property

Is any work not covered by the Act?

There are some types of work that are not covered by the Act.

These include:

  • 'Basic' DIY tasks, such as putting up shelves or wall units
  • Re plastering
  • Installation of electrical wiring

What work is covered by the Act?

The guiding principle that underlies the Act is that any work that may affect the structural strength, weaken the support function or cause damage to the neighbouring side of a wall should require prior notification.

This includes:

  • The demolition or rebuilding of a party wall
  • Altering its height or width
  • The insertion of a damp proof course into it
  • Underpinning the wall
  • Cutting into it to support load bearing beams
  • Excavations that are within three metres of a neighbouring building and go below its foundations
  • Excavations that are within six metres of a neighbouring building and go below a line drawn 45° down from the base of its foundations

What is a Party Wall Notice?

If the planned work is covered by the Party Wall Act, any affected parties must be given a Notice.

This must include:

  • Details of the owners of the property undertaking the work
  • The address of the property
  • The names of all owners of adjoining properties
  • A description of the proposed work
  • The proposed start date
  • A clear statement that the Notice is being served under the Act and the date the Notice is being served
  • If excavation work is proposed a drawing showing the position and depth of the work is required

The process for serving and responding to a Party Wall Notice can best be understood by referring to our flow charts which show it from the perspective of someone carrying out the work or from someone in a neighbouring property.

What happens if consent is not given to the Notice?

Work cannot be carried out until the Notice has been formally agreed to.

The surveyors determine a fair and impartial Award.

It is possible to appoint an 'agreed surveyor' who is acceptable to all parties or to appoint a surveyor to represent each party.

It is usual for the party undertaking the work to be responsible for the fees.

The surveyor(s) produce an Award which is fair and impartial to all parties. If you feel the Award is unfair you have 14 days to appeal to a County Court against it.

What happens after an Award is made?

After an Award is made work can begin.

It is important that the work carried out complies with the Notice. It is also important that a record is kept of all relevant documentation for future buyers of the property.

Where can I find more information?

For information about any aspect of work carried out on a party wall call us today on 0203 322 4332 for a frank and informal discussion.

You can continue to explore the Act online at the Gov.UK site or download an explanatory brochure here

Avoid this happening to you: "Barnet Council set to demolish flats that started to collapse while Finchley families slept"

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