This Government Published Advice (GPA) is an explanatory guide to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
The following information is not an authoritative interpretation of the law and does not replace the need for individual advice. It aims to explain in simple terms how the Party Wall etc Act 1996 (“the Act”) may affect someone who either wishes to carry out work covered by the Act (the "Building Owner") or receives notification under the Act of proposed adjacent work (the “Adjoining Owner”).
Under the Act, the word “owner” includes the persons or body
• holding the freehold title, or
• holding a leasehold title for a period exceeding one year, or
• under contract to purchase such a title, or
• entitled to receive rents from the property
There may therefore be more than one set of “owners” of a single property.
In this section the word “he” is used to include “she” and “they” (where there are joint owners or the owners are companies or other sorts of body). This section is only about the Act, which is separate from planning or building regulations control.
You must remember that reaching agreement with the Adjoining Owner or owners under the Act does not remove the possible need to apply for planning permission or to comply with building regulations procedures. Conversely, gaining planning permission or complying with the building regulations does not remove the need to comply with the Act where it is applicable.
If you intend to carry out building work which involves one of the following categories:
• work on an existing wall or structure shared with another property (section 2 of the Act)
• building a free standing wall or a wall of a building up to or astride the boundary with a neighbouring property (section 1 of the Act)
• excavating near a neighbouring building (section 6 of the Act)
You must find out whether that work falls within the Act. If it does, you must notify all Adjoining Owners.
Part 1 : The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
Part 2 : Building Owners
Work on existing Party Walls (Section 2 of the Act)
4. What are my rights under the Act if I want to do work on an existing party wall?
5. What are my duties under the Act?
6. What about things like putting up shelves or wall units, or installing recessed sockets, or removing and renewing plaster?
7. Who counts as an "Adjoining Owner"?
8. How do I inform the Adjoining Owner or owners?
9. How long in advance do I have to serve the notice?
10. What happens after I serve notice?
11. What if I cannot reach agreement with my neighbour on the work to be done to the party wall?
12. Who can I appoint as a surveyor in the event of a dispute?
13. What does the surveyor do?
14. Who pays the surveyor’s fees?
15. Is the surveyor’s award final?
16. Who pays for the building works?
17. What happens if the neighbours won’t cooperate?
18. What about access to neighbouring property?
19. What rights does my neighbour have?
New building on the boundary line between neighbouring pieces of land (Section 1 of the Act)
20. What does the Act say if I want to build up to or astride the boundary line?
21. How long in advance do I have to serve the notice?
22. What happens after I serve notice about building astride the boundary line?
23. What happens after I serve notice about building up to the boundary line?
24. What happens if there is a disagreement with my neighbour?
25. What about access to neighbouring property?
Excavation near neighbouring buildings (Section 6 of the Act)
26. What does the Act say if I want to excavate near neighbouring buildings?
27. How long in advance do I have to serve the notice?
28. What happens after I serve notice?
29. What about access to neighbouring property?
Part 3 : Adjoining Owners/ Occupiers
30. What does the Act say if my neighbour wants to carry out building works?
31. What do I do if I receive a Party Wall Act notice from my neighbour?
32. What do I do if I believe my neighbour is about to start work and I have not received a Party Wall Act notice?
33. What do I do if my neighbour starts work and I have not received a Party Wall Act notice?
34. What if I cannot reach agreement with my neighbour?
35. What about access to my property?
36. As a neighbouring owner, what can I do to guard against the risk that the Building Owner may leave work on the party wall unfinished?
Part 4 : FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
37. Does the Act change who owns that party wall?
38. Can the Act be used to resolve a boundary dispute?
39. Does the Act supersede common law rights?
40. Does the Building Owner have to wait for the full one or two months after serving a notice before starting work?
41. What happens if an owner wants to build up to an existing boundary wall which does not currently form part of a building and which is wholly on their own land?