party wall matters

The Party Wall Etc. Act 1996

The Party Wall Etc. Act 1996 (The Act) 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 Act is intended to enable works to proceed reasonably and considerately. It is a complex legal document that should be considered whenever works are proposed to party walls or within close proximity to any structure.

What You Need to Know

Party walls are the walls etc. that you share with your neighbours. Owners of property and landlords need to know their rights and responsibilities.

What is a Party Wall?

Semi-detached and terraced houses share walls with their neighbours; we call these party walls. They separate buildings belonging to different owners. Where there are different sized buildings, the part that is used by both properties alone is considered to be a party wall. The rest belongs to the person on whose land it stands.

When carrying out works that are captured under the party wall act you must serve notice on your neighbour and obtain your neighbour’s agreement before you can start.

Works such as:

  • Extensions
  • Damp proofing works
  • Some internal refurbishment
  • Structural alterations

require a notice.

In some of these cases this arises because you are excavating or constructing foundations for a new building within three or six metres of neighbouring properties.

Party Wall Disputes

A dispute occurs when dissent from a Notice is acknowledged. The Act recognises a failure to respond to a Party Structure Notice or a Notice of Excavation within 14 days as a dissent.

If a dispute occurs, an award must be entered into and both (or all) parties must appoint a surveyor. Generally, the surveyor’s fees for acting as the ‘Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor’ will be paid by the building owner under the Act although this must be agreed. Care should be taken as if a surveyor is appointed prematurely and before a dispute has ended their fees may not be covered in full.

We regularly act as building owner’s Surveyor, Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor or as Agreed Surveyor. As a Party Wall Surveyor we must remain impartial which allows us to ensure that the best solutions to any disputes are undertaken and that all parties are equally protected.

RICS Party Wall Guidance Document

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