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Your Rights Under the Party Wall Act 1996

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 2 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Party Wall Act 1996 Party Wall Act Party

The Party Wall Act 1996 relates to any work which you may want to carry out where an adjoining wall with a neighbour's property might be affected. It also provides the framework to facilitate a resolution to any dispute you might have with any neighbours over the proposed work.

Your Rights

You have the right to maintain and repair party walls but, if you need to alter the structure of the adjoining wall, you need to serve a party structure notice giving at least 2 months' notice of the proposed date of the commencement of the alterations work to the owners of any adjoining property or properties affected, and the full details of what you’re intending to do. Obviously, this isn’t necessary for minor work, such as drilling holes to fix screws or hammering nails in, but it is important if you are carrying out any of the work in the list below (though this isn’t exhaustive):

  • Building of an entirely new party wall, fence or structure
  • Lowering or raising the height of an existing party wall or changing its thickness
  • Repairing, demolishing or rebuilding an existing party wall
  • Cutting into a party wall for the purpose of installing any damp-proof coursing or flashing

The Act also covers different kinds of excavation work which could possibly affect the adjoining owner’s property, where any work you intend to carry out is within 3 metres of an adjoining property, and where the work will go deeper than the foundations of the adjoining neighbour’s property.

It also covers excavations for construction foundations which lie within 6 metres of an adjoining property, where any work will involve cutting a downwards line at a 45 degree angle from the bottom of any neighbouring foundations. To carry out any excavation work, you must serve a party structure notice at least 1 month before the planned commencement of the work.

How to Respond to a Party Structure Notice

Whether you’re serving or receiving a Party Structure Notice, it must be responded to within 14 days and should contain one of the following:

  • Yes, the work is agreed to unconditionally
  • Yes, the work is agreed to but with conditions attached. In this instance, it is then necessary to serve a ‘counter-notice’ which must be done within 14 days of the original notice being served

If a Dispute Arises

Under the Act, a ‘dispute’ is said to have arisen if either the original notice has not been responded to within 14 days, or a ‘counter-notice’ has been served in response and that hasn’t been responded to within 14 days.

If there is a Dispute Over Building Works, you should try to resolve it by speaking with the neighbour(s) involved as it stops you from incurring additional costs. However, if a resolution cannot be reached, it’s up to those involved to either appoint an ‘agreed surveyor’ who will attempt to draw up a resolution which is acceptable to both parties.

This will have to be paid for and costs can escalate further if both parties decide to appoint their own surveyor. If an agreement still cannot be reached, a third surveyor might then be nominated to adjudicate, adding even more expense. Therefore, it’s always better if an agreement can be reached by the neighbours concerned to avoid additional costs on both sides.

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Our new next door neighbour took possession of their property about 3 weeks ago. The first we knew about them when 3 so called builders turned up and started smashing the chimney breasts down on the party wall adjoined to ours. It was only when cracks started to appear on our ceilings above both chimneys I went round to tell them to stop due to the noise and damage. I found 2 young men using sledge hammers smashing into the upstairs chimney stack. There were no acro props or supports of any kind being used. They had already taken the down stairs chimney breast away. We had not been informed of any such structural work being carried out and there was no party agreement I'm place. We had to tell them to cease any work on the party wall and that an agreement had to be in place. Contacted building control and advised them. They came out and supposedly told them that the work they had done seemed safe. He informed them they had to get a structural engineers report and send it to him. I have since received a PWA from the neighbours just stating they want to take down all the chimney breast out. I've not been given 2 month's notice of intended works, nor have I been given any reports on how or who is going to carry out this work. The new neighbours do not understand or speak English very well (purportedly). I believe they are under the impression that because they've issued a totally useless PWA that they will carry on demolishing these chimneys without structural supports or surveyors reports without our agreement. What are my rights then. There were no searches or surveys done when they purchased the property.
The Baron - 2-Oct-19 @ 6:03 AM
Due to seeing blistering paint on our party wall, we called in a surveyor.His report told us our neighbours (who are higher on the hilly road in which we live) have water under their property.All of their walls are damp apart from the party wall on their side. Theparty wall on our side is damp.We want to settle the problem, and know our property is safe.We also know we will have to have some work done. How can we convince our neighbours to do the work needed to their property?We are prepared to pay half of the cost.
Billy - 26-Aug-19 @ 12:44 PM
My neighbours are adding a second floor to their first floor extension.Last May 2018 they sent a notice that they downloaded from the internet asking me to sign.I sent a letter back acknowledging the letter but did not sign their letter.They now want to put a large metal ladder across my conservatory with poles on my path which is not very wide so they can erect scaffolding along the party wall.I do not have a problem with them erecting the scaffolding but I do about them putting things across my conservatory and leaving it there with the poles for at least a month if not more. They are being very bullying and as I live on my own find it intimidating.They did not let me know what they intended until the Saturday before work on the Monday which they have had to postpone because at the moment I have said no.I have two dogs which have the run of the garden while I'm at work so their safety has to be taken into consideration.What are my rights with this, would the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 be applicable.
Carol - 19-Jul-19 @ 10:15 AM
Our next door neighbour (who we don't speak to because of many years of building work noise) has been scraping, banging, and using various machines on our party wall. We have no idea what he is doing to it, but it has been going on - periodically - for years (also he doesn't actually live there). We don't know how extensive the work is, but it worries us that he is gradually weakening that wall.We contacted the Council about our concerns but they've done nothing.Does this come under the Party Wall Act at all?Is there anything we can do? Can we get an official person (e.g. surveyor) to check the wall and demand to know the details of what he is doing and when it will be finished?
Fiona - 3-Jul-19 @ 10:13 AM
Our neighbour is in the process of replacing their fence with a 5' breeze block wall. They have rendered it on their side but are now saying that we have to pay if we want our side rendering too. There has been very limited discussion relating to this wall being built in that we were pretty much told it's happening, but were then not given any further details. Any attempts to discuss it with them were very brief and quickly ended by them. It hadn't been mentioned for months, but we recently came back from a holiday to find that work had begun while we were away. The old fence had been removed, and about 3" of soil on our side of the boundary had been removed to allow their builders to construct the wall. We have complained about this but they've gone ahead and built the wall anyway, but are now saying that if we want it rendering on our side, we have to pay. The wall is entirely on their side of the boundary, so that's not the issue, but what are our rights here? As they have chosen to build a wall rather than a fence, isn't it down to them to render it on both sides and cover the costs?
CD - 1-Jul-19 @ 12:14 PM
We are planning a rear extension and there is already an existing extension on our boundary (neighbour's wall building). Our neighbour are not against our extension though the house still belongs to the council. How do we go about with this issue? Do we have to write to the council about our plan?
Thami - 14-Jun-19 @ 1:09 PM
Our neighbour is trying to blame his poorly maintained stack (shared with us) which is badly leaking and stained and clearly rainwater entering through the stack in to the breast in the loft , to our chimney stack which is supported on timber. He has served a party wall notice that he wants to remove his side of the stack. If we let him do it can party wall act force us to pay for it because he is saying it is on poor state because of our chimney breast removal. The removal of chimney breast took place before at least 17 years ago or more. we have been living in the current property for 9 years previuos neighbours never had any issues. this guy moved in 3.5 years ago.Any advice will be appreciated.
joane - 3-Jun-19 @ 11:44 PM
I and my neighbor owns flats which are facing like L shape and long edge of L is mine and small edge of L is my neighbors flat. we had a dispute when they placed their huge shoe rack to my Long edge claiming the ownership on the wall which embraces only to my flat. After a big fight we both agreed to remove all the shoe racks and flower pots in the common area and practiced the same. But my windows are thrown open to the corridor on to the long edge wall, and the same is being questioned by my neighbor asking to close them.Is it correct? Does it has any legal point to claim in the court of law by my neighbor?
bobby - 3-May-19 @ 11:43 AM
I meant to add our new Neighbour moved next to us about 11 years ago and the new chimney was excavated approximately 4 years ago, any advice will be extremely welcome.
BUDDY - 23-Apr-19 @ 2:15 PM
We have lived in our semidetached bungalow since 1996, our new neighbors moved into the adjoining bungalow, all of us own our properties which are freehold. a few years ago our new neighbor was having some work done to accommodate their gas fire after removing their electric fire,which cracked the plaster on our adjoining wall, our party walls have a small air gap between them.We paid a plasterer to re plaster over the cracks on our joining wall because we knew how obtuse our neighbour could be.It became apparent 18 months later that the neighbour's had employed a gas fitter to fit their new gas fire and to accommodate it he has knocked out a 4 foot x 4 ft hole, in the adjoining party wall where before their electric fire sat against our party wall, then above that gap he has thenchanneled a 3 foot wide shaft up the party wall to their loft and then out through their roof.Our neighbour told my wife how the gas fitter managed to put the fire INTO the party wall, (our homes have a perfectly working fireplace with a chimney on the opposite wall that would have accommodated all of this but they boarded that up and papered over it). They are complaining they can hear our television! How can we hear our own television above theirs!How do we resolve this situation? Are they allowed to take all of these bricks out of this party wall, if not who pays to get this situation sorted or are we too late to complain about it? Who do we complain to?Please help, our neighbors are bullies, we are elderly and my wife suffers from anxiety and depression.
BUDDY - 23-Apr-19 @ 2:10 PM
Good afternoon, I am writing with a query I am hoping you can advise upon. We are planning an extension to the rear of our property. We have issued a 3/6 metre party wall notice to ourneighbours. They have just come back within the time frame dissenting the party wall and requesting they use their own independent surveyor. I asked if the would be happy to use their choice as an agreed surveyor to which they declined. Obviously to keep cost exposure low it would be beneficial if we could. Can we concur to their choice of surveyor and ask that they act on behalf of both parties even if our neighbours don’t want to? Thanks in advance
Brett - 9-Apr-19 @ 1:30 PM
Hi , I have a similar kind of qeury as Blakes previously. As our house is similar ,just our stairs are at the front and neighbours at the back ,chimney in the middlemy neighbour is building an externalgarden wall and will be erecting a Fence half way between the chimney measurements,at the front of the house ,if any damage is done internally to the wall over my stairswho would be liable for the cost . I'm worried as this would be very expensive as the house isstone . Please help with advice
Confused - 19-Jan-19 @ 12:02 AM
My neighbour's downstairs bathroom shower had a leaky pipe.It seeped into the wall.I obtained a specialist damp report which found the problem after using special equipment in the property next door.Eventually (and this has been going on for nearly 3 years) neighbour (who is landlord of the property) got shower replaced and pipework sorted.Have obtained quote for replastering which he said he would pay.Also we have said we are seeking reimbursement of the fee paid for the damp report.We also think that he should pay for redecoration of the room which was decorated some 6 months before the problem was discovered.We feel that we should not be out of pocket as this was through no fault of our own.I am willing to go to Court to recover the total sum for replastering, redecorating and damp survey report.Where do we stand on this.He seems very keen not to go through insurance companies for some reason - has also already asked for bank details to transfer money into to settle this - advice please.
Twink - 29-Nov-18 @ 2:32 PM
I've received planning permission for my semi detached propertytwo storey Side elevation and a rear extention. The neighbour which had objected, is on the non adjoining wall. They feel we are too close to their boundary. The distance is actually my 2.8 mtr drive on which the two storey build will stand and their own 2.8 mtr driveway. Does the party wall agreement effect the driveways or is just the houses due to possible damage.
Jen - 22-Nov-18 @ 7:05 PM
Hi both my neighbour and myself are the freeholders ofour separate flats and have "unofficial" roof terraces, at the back of our Victorianpremises, that are above commercial premises. These are separated by alow party wall. The dividing line falls equally and centrally down the middle of the wall, following the vertical walldividing our properties. My neighbour and his tenants have become intimidating and we have recently acquired a large dog, whowe don't want jumping over this low wall. I need a fence to reduce the intimidation, to increase my privacy and toprevent the dog coming toharm, or bothering the neighbours. If I erect a fence under 2 metres high I know I don't need planning permission, but is thisok todo as long as it isonly on my side of the line? I was going to make sure it was 1.5cm inside of my side of the party line ie giving them a clear 50% of the low wall plus a 1.5cm gap before my fence ends, so that everything is definitely on my side
Party Time - 20-Nov-18 @ 10:50 PM
I live in a semi, my problem is the house next door, not attached, their footpath is collapsing next to their soil stack and the grate for the sewer is on our path, the collapse is causing our path to crack, I’m worried that it could cause their sewer pipe to collapse as it’s directly under the path that’s sinking, I’m not sure where we stand if they refuse to have it repaired.
Harri - 10-Nov-18 @ 1:03 PM
In the last 5 months our side neighbour has started to drill in trellis nails and supports on our exterior wall that is located in the front side of their front garden. Their house is set back from ours. Four years ago we had to take down and build back up part of the wall due to damp that was entering our home from to moisture and old pointing. I now worry that the nails and trellis will cause the same problem eventually. Can our neighbour drill into our wall - the wall we had to pay to repair? Who is responsible for any damages or moisture that occurs due to this drilling? Thank you.
CMF - 11-Oct-18 @ 9:53 AM
I have purchased a old semi detached house , we are renovating wholly , when we looked at the plans we realised that the neighbours house has there stairs at the front of the building and ours at the back with the chimney in the middle , when we start our roof do we tile to the middle of the firestack or just to the wall on our side at the front and over our stairs at the back ,as this means we would have to remove part of the neighbours roofat the front , we don't want to start problems with our neighbours on the other side
Glake - 10-Oct-18 @ 11:21 AM
Hi i am an owner of a wall thats wholely on my property.Years ago I let previoud neighbours use my wall to build their garage.My current neighbours fell out with me because i built a double storey extension using my wall.If they ever want to make any amendments to their garage, eg turn it into living space, extend it etc are they allowed to do it?As I would want them to take down their existing structure and build their own wall on their property
sdavie2pink - 29-Sep-18 @ 2:52 PM
I am the owner of a party wall that is on my property.My neighbours use my wall for their garage.I no longer speak to them because of problems with my extension.I would never allow them to make any amendments to their garage without them taking their roof down and building their own new wall.Would I be made to let them use my wall for any changes to their property.
sdavie2pink - 29-Sep-18 @ 2:46 PM
My neighbours have recently had their house painted but have painted all of the area that is the cavity wall space. This has made my house look very unsighly with a patch of paint about 6 inches running down my side of the fence. What can i do?
JT - 15-Sep-18 @ 9:59 AM
please can any one advise me. i have a mid terrace Victorian house and i have water ingression that has materialised on the adjoining corner walls and ceiling between my house and my neighbours house. My neighbour dry lined his property because his property suffered badly with damp several years ago. i had a plumber check for a water leak on my side and nothing was found. I have had a surveyor look at this also and he is of the opinion that the neighbours dry lining has caused the problem and as he has in effect sealed off his side it has forced the problem through the wall into my property. does the neighbours act of dry lining his property contravene the building regulations and how do i address the situation as i cant repair the ceiling . re-plaster the damaged walls or redecorate until the water problem has been solved. the damp situation is getting worse and causing more damage the longer it is left unaddressed any advice would be gratefully received.
sugundo - 11-Sep-18 @ 7:45 PM
MrsMaymo - Your Question:
We live in a semi-detached house and our neighbours had a damp problem. They mentioned in passing that they were going to have the front re-rendered. About 8 months later work started, whole we were out. Our windows weren't protected and we had rubble banging against them and on our cars on our driveway. When they had finished we had, concrete and paint all over our windows and driveway and they have rendered the neighbours house with a different finish. We have just had our house painted, and where the join is the builder has put a silicone seal which stands out like a sore thumb. What can we do ?

Our Response:
Ask the neighbours/ the builder to rectify the damage. If they refuse, try alternative dispute resolution or failing that, the small claims court.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Sep-18 @ 11:19 AM
We live in a semi-detached house and our neighbours had a damp problem. They mentioned in passing that they were going to have the front re-rendered. About 8 months later work started, whole we were out. Our windows weren't protected and we had rubble banging against them and on our cars on our driveway. When they had finished we had, concrete and paint all over our windows and driveway and they have rendered the neighbours house with a different finish. We have just had our house painted, and where the join is the builder has put a silicone seal which stands out like a sore thumb. What can we do ?
MrsMaymo - 3-Sep-18 @ 9:32 AM
My garage roof is continuous with my neighbour's, running over a party wall. The neighbours want to raise the level of their garage roof.I assume I need a party wall agreement from them, but will they need planning permission?
flash - 30-Aug-18 @ 3:33 PM
Ani - Your Question:
Our neighbours have recently put a bathroom in downstairs backing on to our dining room. The party wall is one brick thick. They have cut into to wall and removed bricks to insert water pipes for taps. They did not serve a party wall notice. We now have the noise of water from these pipes loud in our dining room when they use the taps as there is just the thickness of our plaster on the wall in front of the pipes. What can I do to get them to resolve this issue as I am now worried what will happen if the pipes leak and the noise is an issue.

Our Response:
Talk to them first of all. If they don't give you information about the work and/or show any intention to rectify it, you will have to take further action via ADR and then the courts.
ProblemNeighbours - 31-Jul-18 @ 12:55 PM
Our neighbours have recently put a bathroom in downstairs backing on to our dining room. The party wall is one brick thick. They have cut into to wall and removed bricks to insert water pipes for taps. They did not serve a party wall notice. We now have the noise of water from these pipes loud in our dining room when they use the taps as there is just the thickness of our plaster on the wall in front of the pipes. What can I do to get them to resolve this issue as I am now worried what will happen if the pipes leak and the noise is an issue.
Ani - 30-Jul-18 @ 1:26 PM
I have a boundary garden brick wall with my neighbours, on my side of the boundary line which belongs to me. My neighbours are building an extension which includes a new wall on their side right against my wall. They served a party wall notice about some foundations for their new wall which was fine with me. However, having built the wall, they have placed new lead coping over the top of my brick wall along whole length where their new wall has been built (about 30 feet), which has a ~5cm fringe down from the top, on my side of the wall. This was never mentioned previously. I have complained about this as it significantly alters the appearance of the wall - I think it is ugly - but they are saying they have the right under the party wall act to put this coping over the whole of my wall, as it is necessary to ensure the health of their wall, and this is covered in the act by the right to install flashing in a party wall. But I would say a) coping on top of the wall is not the same as flashing and b) my wall is a boundary wall not a party wall, so is not covered by the act in this respect. In any case, don't they have some obligation to worry about the appearance? Who is right?
Ben - 18-Jul-18 @ 9:10 AM
Jake - Your Question:
My neighbours son has requested we pay towards a damp patch and blown wall of their brick detached garage of which the left wall is on the boundary of our property. There are some climbing plants on our land that grow up their garage wall for about the first twelve feet which have been there since we moved in nearly twenty years ago. The rest of the length of the garage on our side is concrete. The damp course row of bricks have deteriorated all along the garage and where the concrete path is. The drive way to this garage is on a slope down with a small drain in the centre by the up on over door. The house and garage was built in the 1970's and has not been maintained. He has got a quote from a builder who says it will cost up to £4,000. He has written to our insurance and demanded a response from them in 28 days. An assessor from the insurance is coming next week. We have no issue in taking down the plants. If this and the brick work is done it will cause us to have builders on our land, we will need to have a small fence erected to fill the gap the plants cover between our garages. I think it is more wear and tear with age of the neighbours garage rather than the few plants that are there in our small boarder. Can our neighbour insist we pay for his garage repairs, be it through our insurance or out of our pocket. We need to know if we are liable, if we are so be it, but want to know before we talk to this person again. He is quite intimidating and wont listen. Would really appreciate some advise or who we could contact to assist further. Thank you

Our Response:
We are not in a position to give advice on individual liability, especially as we are not in possession of all the facts. You would be better advised to consult a legal professional.
ProblemNeighbours - 25-Jun-18 @ 1:49 PM
My neighbours son has requested we pay towards a damp patch and blown wall of their brick detached garage of which the left wall is on the boundary of our property. There are some climbing plants on our land that grow up their garage wall for about the first twelve feet which have been there since we moved in nearly twenty years ago. The rest of the length of the garage on our side is concrete. The damp course row of bricks have deteriorated all along the garage and where the concrete path is. The drive way to this garage is on a slope down with a small drain in the centre by the up on over door.The house and garage was built in the 1970's and has not been maintained. He has got a quote from a builder who says it will cost up to £4,000. He has written to our insurance and demanded a response from them in 28 days. An assessor from the insurance is coming next week. We have no issue in taking down the plants. If this and the brick work is done it will cause us to have builders on our land, we will need to have a small fence erected to fill the gap the plants cover between our garages. I think it is more wear and tear with age of the neighbours garage rather than the few plants that are there in our small boarder.Can our neighbour insist we pay for his garage repairs, be it through our insurance orout of our pocket.We need to know if we are liable, if we are so be it, but want to know before we talk to this person again.He is quite intimidating and wont listen. Would really appreciate some advise or who we could contact to assist further. Thank you
Jake - 22-Jun-18 @ 8:23 PM
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