An explanatory guide to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
19. What rights do Adjoining Owners have?
Adjoining Owners’ rights are described in Part 4 of this booklet. They include the right to:
• appoint a surveyor to resolve any dispute;
• require reasonably necessary measures to be taken to protect their property from foreseeable damage;
• not to suffer any unnecessary inconvenience;
• be compensated for any loss or damage caused by relevant works;
• ask for security of expenses before you start significant work so as to guard against the risk of being left in difficulties if you stop work at an inconvenient stage.
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 against or astride the boundary line?
If you plan to build a party wall or party fence wall astride the boundary line, you must inform the Adjoining Owner by serving a notice — see paragraph 7 and paragraph 8. You may want to base your notice on Example Letter 4. However, there is no right to build astride the boundary without your neighbour's agreement in writing — see paragraph 22.
You must also inform the Adjoining Owner by serving a notice if you plan to build a wall wholly on your own land but up against the boundary line. You may want to base your notice on Example Letter 6.
The Act contains no enforcement procedures for failure to serve a notice. However, if you start work without having first given notice in the proper way, Adjoining Owners may seek to stop your work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress.
21. How long in advance do I have to serve the notice?
At least one month before the planned starting date for building the wall. The notice is only valid for a year, so do not serve it too long before you wish to start.
22. What happens after I serve notice about building astride the boundary line?
If the Adjoining Owner agrees within 14 days to the building of a new wall astride the boundary line, the work (as agreed) may go ahead. The expense of building the wall may be shared between the owners where the benefits and use of that wall will be shared.
The agreement must be in writing and should record details of the location of the wall, the allocation of costs and any other agreed conditions.
If the Adjoining Owner does not agree, in writing, within 14 days, to the proposed new wall astride the boundary line, you must build the wall wholly on your own land, and wholly at your own expense. However, you have a right to place necessary footings for the new wall under your neighbour’s land — see paragraph 23 — subject to compensating for any damage caused by building the wall or laying the foundations. There is no right to place reinforced concrete under your neighbour’s land without their express written consent.
You may start work one month after your notice was served.
23. What happens after I serve notice about building up against the boundary line?
Unless your neighbour objects, you may start work one month after your notice was served. You have the right to place footings and foundations extending under the Adjoining Owner’s land. However, there is no right to place reinforced concrete foundations under your neighbour’s land without their express written consent.
The wall will be built wholly at your own expense and you will have to compensate any Adjoining Owner for any damage to his property caused by the building of the wall, or the placing of footings and foundations under his land.