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Your Rights Under the Party Wall Act 1996

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 13 Feb 2017 | 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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I jointly own my late mother's house with my brother and it is currently uninhabited. A man bought the adjoining house in November 2016 (I have not met him) and last Wednesday (8 Feb), I discovered that he has done a lot of internal work that affects the party wall. He did not serve any party wall notice or inform me in any way at all. The building company that is carrying out all the works is owned by him, so I telephoned him to ask exactly what works he has had done and if there are any more. He said he had removed the chimney breast and that he was also going to be building a garden wall on the boundary of our gardens in the front of the properties. I also asked him about the extension and outbuilding he has submitted planning applications for to our local council, which I'd seen on the Council website. He told me the single storey extension to the rear would be 1m to 1.5m longer than the extension to my late mother's house and the outbuilding was to be a store for his company's surplus building materials and equipment such as concrete mixers. Both the extension and the "store" will be right up to the boundary line. I spoke to my brother who said that the neighbour should have served us party wall notices for the internal works and the garden wall and that he should also serve us notices for the extension and the "store" if permission is granted by the Council. I sent a text message to the neighbour, as I wanted to have everything in writing. He finally responded yesterday, 4 days after I sent him the message asking why he hadn't served us party wall notices and what other works he intended on doing that would affect our property and the party wall. He said that the works have been done to a high standard (in his opinion of course!) and that no more internal works were going to be done. He said he will not be serving party wall notices for the extension or the "store" and said "be my guest" if I wanted to object to them but he would be building them once permission from the Council had been received. I have also discovered that he has ripped out the staircase and replaced it with another one which also affects the party wall. I do not want to fall out with him as I will be moving into the property at some point but he is blatantly disregarding the Party Wall Act and I don't know what to do other than going to court for an injunction, which I would really struggle to afford, as I am disabled and unable to work. Any advice gratefully received.
Worried - 13-Feb-17 @ 12:17 PM
I live in a Victorian mid terrace property and have recently added an access hatch to the loft, as the old hatch was too small to get through. Our adjoining neighbours have also fitted a loft hatch and it has become apparent that there is no wall separating the two sides of the loft. For a security and safety point of view, we would like to put up a simple partition wall which the neighbours originally said they would pay half for. However, they are now saying that at one end, the wall would prevent them from accessing the roof or ceiling of the room below due to a lack of space caused by the angle of the roof. He said that if he did need to access this area, he would need to come onto my side of the loft. He said he also doesn't want any weight in the loft in case it causes the new plaster ceilings to crack, therefore we can't put the partition wall up. Can someone please advise where I stand on this? We would really like to be able to use our loft for storage and so would want the partition wall, especially as the adjoining house is to be let out. Can we put the wall up on our side of the loft without his permission? Can he legally prevent us from doing it?
Lucy - 1-Feb-17 @ 2:00 PM
I have an end terrace property. the side leads to the back of flats. the council attached a gate before I bought the property and the constant use has caused cracking in the corner of the house. I have phoned the council to discuss but they have no record of the gate. I do not know how to track who owns this gate. recently the landlord of the flats erected fencing to the back of the flats and has screwed timber fencing into my end property wall. I am concerned about the increased damage this will cause to my property. I spoke to the builder when I was awoken one morning to hear him drilling into my wall but he insisted the screws would not damage the wall and would not give me the landlords details so that I could discuss it further. how can I track down the owners of the gates? can I get them to remove the posts fixed to my wall? and what are my rights if there has been damage caused by the council gate that was installed about 15 years ago?
janet - 31-Dec-16 @ 9:05 PM
We live in a terraced house (1900's) and we share a chimney at the back with our neighbour. We have had water ingress through the chimney for several months, possibly longer. It has been dripping down on to the floorboards above the kitchen ceiling and has eventually made a hole in the plaster. The chimney breast has been taken out and propped up before we bought the house. We have had the whole house re-roofed, new flashing, the chimney on our side has been re-pointed and it has been capped off on our side too and yet the water is still coming in. This happens when the rain is especially heavy and in a particular direction. I had our roofer out again to check because the leak happened again after the repainting had been done and he said our side is sound and there is nothing else we can do. He said the neighbours side of the chimney is in a poor state, with the pointing needing repair and the top needs capping. He has spoken to them to explain but because they have no damp issues or water ingress they are having none of it. What I want to do is to have a survey done to establish the problem which I think would, according to the Party Wall act, be a shared expense? Then hopefully they will have to accept responsibility and get the repairs done. The water runs down my newly decorated kitchen wall along the £70 per roll wallpaper!!! Please would you advise? Many thanks
Prudence - 22-Dec-16 @ 1:35 PM
Hi I have a wall at the back of my garden (7ft tall ) that did continue at the the back of my neighbours property and closes off both my neighbour's garden and mine. They have recently knocked down their wall to make a parking space that is accessed from the access road that runs behind our properties. They have removed their wall up to the boundary line and also a small section of my wall without seeking my permission and the remedial brickwork to face the wall off is bent and not in line with the boundary line (ie the top of the wall is further away from the plumb boundary line than the bottom). Currently it's 2 inches from the imaginary line that I would assume falls down the centre of the fence and 4-5inches from the top of this imaginary line. Am iI within my rights to ask them to reinstate the missing wall and that its edge lines up with the boundary line? Can someone offer some advice please?
Spatownboy - 15-Dec-16 @ 9:32 PM
Hi, My neighbor garden wall is attached to the column of my wall. I came home today and she had removed her entire garden wall which has damaged my column. I will need to render and repair the concrete column where she had removed here wall, resulting in a deep insertion left on my post. What are my rights in relation to this matter please?
SaKha - 26-Nov-16 @ 9:35 AM
We agreed with the new owners next door one of them being the contractor to have a joint surveyor draw up a party wall award. Now the owner/contractor has gutted the house we are of the opinion he is doing additional works on the party wall which were not on the original notice or the award. Latest 7 rows of London stock bricks descending from the apex of the roof on our side of the party wall have been replaced with engineering bricks. Do we have the right to have the original brickwork reinstated any advise helpful. As yet the owner/contractor has made no attempt to tell us why he needed to replace the brickwork, party wall surveyor is of no help and building regulations opinion was that works should only cut into his side of the 9 in party wall.
Julie Nyhan - 22-Nov-16 @ 2:30 PM
Fred - Your Question:
I bought a detached house just under a year ago. This had a lean to on the side between my house and the neighbours which had been there for circa 5 years. Recently the neighbour is complaining that he was never happy with it in the first place and has asked for it to be removed. Looks like it is leaning on his property and not actually drilled in supported by posts that are two inches away from the neighbours property. The pvc roof sheets lean on neighbours property but the water runs towards my property. Does he have the right to make me remove it?

Our Response:
Your neighbour can make you remove it if it's touching or affixed to his property or extending over his boundary.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Nov-16 @ 2:37 PM
I bought a detached house just under a year ago. This had a lean to on the side between my house and the neighbours which had been there for circa 5 years. Recently the neighbour is complaining that he was never happy with it in the first place and has asked for it to be removed. Looks like it is leaning on his property and not actually drilled in supported by posts that are two inches away from the neighbours property. The pvc roof sheets lean on neighbours property but the water runs towards my property. Does he have the right to make me remove it?
Fred - 16-Nov-16 @ 11:17 PM
Dee - Your Question:
We have recently moved into a house and have been having problems with the neighbours car port next door. The car port is attached to the top of our fence which is holding it up, the car port itself is dangerous, it's all rotten and pieces of wood keep coming off it and landing on us and now it is pulling our fence over. The only way we can fix our fence is to take the car port off it, are we allowed to do this?

Our Response:
A neighbour should not attach anything to your fence/property. It would be sensible to discuss this with them and agree a way in which you're both happy to proceed.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Nov-16 @ 9:52 AM
We have recently moved into a house and have been having problems with the neighbours car port next door.The car port is attached to the top of our fence which is holding it up, the car port itself is dangerous, it's all rotten and pieces of wood keep coming off it and landing on us and now it is pulling our fence over. The only way we can fix our fence is to take the car port off it, are we allowed to do this?
Dee - 15-Nov-16 @ 9:13 AM
Jobeth - Your Question:
In my back garden of 25ft long my neighbours and I share the boundary line, however I've been here 20years now and I've always replaced the panels and put new posts in and paid all expenses myself as agreed with previous neighbors who died from old age. I put 41/2 feet concrete posts and panels. However the new neighbours are drilling my posts and putting attached to my posts and panels there own 6ft fence panels. I explained it's a shared boundary line but I paid for all the boundary features posts /panels. I expressed my concerns that they may crack the concrete posts and I won't be able remove my panels to change them when need be. My question is are they legally allowed to do this to my post's and panels even though I've paid out for them along our shared boundary line. Many thanks

Our Response:
If your boundary is genuinely shared, you should both agree on, and share the cost of any fence work etc.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Nov-16 @ 2:37 PM
In my back gardenof25ft long my neighbours and I share the boundary line,howeverI've been here 20years now and I've alwaysreplaced the panels and put new posts in and paid all expensesmyselfas agreedwith previousneighborswho died from old age.I put 41/2 feet concretepostsand panels.Howeverthe new neighbours are drillingmy postsand puttingattachedto myposts and panels there own 6ft fence panels.I explainedit's a shared boundary line but I paidfor all the boundaryfeaturesposts /panels.I expressedmy concerns thatthey may crack the concreteposts and I won't be ableremove my panels to changethem when need be.My questionis are they legallyallowedto do thisto my post'sand panels even thoughI've paidout for them alongour shared boundaryline.Many thanks
Jobeth - 12-Nov-16 @ 6:51 PM
spud - Your Question:
My neighbour has extended his house up to the boundary line. We have a Party wall Award so that he can come onto my land to render the wall. He has now decided not to bother with the rendering and the house is up for sale.The wall looks a mess as it is partly brick and partly old crumbling render and I am sure the new owners will want to render it properly. Can they come over to do it under the Neighbouring properties Act; i.e. is it maintenance? Do we use the existing Party Wall Award? Do we need a new Party Wall Award? We need something as any work will involve blocking our driveway and chopping down our hedge, can they do that ? Please help. Thank you.

Our Response:
The Party Wall Agreement may have expired...legislation states the following:
"A party structure notice shall cease to have effect if the work to which it relates has not begun within the period of twelve months beginning with the day on which the notice is served"
If you can make a new agreement that suits both you and your new neighbours that is fine. Now that the extension is already there - to any new neighbours its upkeep may be considered essential maintenance but you might need to seek legal advice to confirm this in terms of the access to neighbouring land act.
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Oct-16 @ 12:09 PM
My neighbour has extended his house up to the boundary line. We have a Party wall Award so that he can come onto my land to render the wall. He has now decided not to bother with the rendering and the house is up for sale. The wall looks a mess as it is partly brick and partly old crumbling render and I am sure the new owners will want to render it properly. Can they come over to do it under the Neighbouring properties Act; i.e. is it maintenance? Do we use the existing Party Wall Award? Do we need a new Party Wall Award? We need something as any work will involve blocking our driveway and chopping down our hedge, can they do that ? Please help. Thank you.
spud - 25-Oct-16 @ 5:25 PM
Sludge - Your Question:
What's my rights, with removing the rendering up to the border line of my property and my neighbours? Removal of internal wall? And installing a log burning stove which goes up a party wall chimney?

Our Response:
Check with your local planning and building regulations departments.
ProblemNeighbours - 29-Sep-16 @ 1:52 PM
What's my rights, with removing the rendering up to the border line of my property and my neighbours? Removal of internal wall? And installing a log burning stove which goes up a party wall chimney?
Sludge - 28-Sep-16 @ 6:33 PM
RS - Your Question:
I live in a terraced property, during the storms earlier this year my brick wall in the front garden was damaged so I replaced it. The wall and its foundations are entirely within my boundary. The neighbour's porch was not rendered where my wall is (it never has been) so my neighbour has decided to stick wide pieces of white PVC strips using silicon on top of my wall to cover the gap in between our garden wall as his porch wall. Can he do this? I asked him to remove them as they deface our wall and offered alternative solutions but was met with aggressive and hostile responses. While the works were being done, he observed them throughout and even asked the brickie for a quote.Where do I stand with this?

Our Response:
No your neighbour should not attach anything to your wall (if the wall belongs to you and is your responsibility). Unfortunately, there is no easy solution apart from court action if your neighbour is unwilling to negotiate or consider alternative suggestions.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Sep-16 @ 12:18 PM
I live in a terraced property, during the storms earlier this year my brick wall in the front garden was damaged so I replaced it.The wall and its foundations are entirely within my boundary.The neighbour's porch was not rendered where my wall is (it never has been) so my neighbour has decided to stick wide pieces of white PVC strips using silicon on top of my wall to cover the gap in between our garden wall as his porch wall.Can he do this?I asked him to remove them as they deface our wall and offered alternative solutions but was met with aggressive and hostile responses.While the works were being done, he observed them throughout and even asked the brickie for a quote. Where do I stand with this?
RS - 21-Sep-16 @ 9:35 AM
My neighbour has a large conservatory the guttering is overflowing and has been dripping on our living room wall causing damp. The wall needs pointing but because the gap between the conservatory and our wall is so narrow we can't get to it. We paid to have his guttering cleared as he wouldn't but why should we keep paying for his guttering to save our wall
Barbie - 14-Sep-16 @ 3:59 PM
My neighbour built an outbuilding onto the back of his house last year and we mentioned how high the wall was being built. Over 2mtrs. He looked at it and agreed it was high and took a block of the height. Now without speaking to us he has built up on this again another 2 blocks and is in the process of adding a roof taking it over 2.5 Mtrs high. Is this allowed.
Rte - 4-Sep-16 @ 5:56 PM
Is our next-door neighbour legally allowed to use our chimney flue - ie the inside of our house - as ventilation? They complained recently of smoke smell from our flue. A CCTV survey showed their builders had knocked into our flue, narrowed it, and done a bad job of patching it up. No party-wall agreement; no asking, no notice. Grade II listed building. I'm sure he said that when they had the chimney-breast removed they left an air brick in there for ventilation, but the only space left behind it - after they had their flue removed - would be the inside of our house. Can they do that? I know they're way out of line for the unauthorised messing-around in our flue, but I'd like to know where we stand wit the air vent before I talk to them.
Tigger - 3-Sep-16 @ 10:47 PM
We live in a midterrace house on a hill. Out neighbours house is higher than ours. Are they responsible for repairs leaks on this wall if it is above our roofline ?
Joebhoy - 2-Sep-16 @ 1:34 PM
Three years ago we had subsidence in our end terrace. The insurance company sorted it and the front and side of our home was underpinned. We have just received three meter notice from our neighbour and I'm concerned. Her front porch will be right against the boundary which means digging right against our problem area. Also it applies to a rear extension and given the rear was not underpinned I'm really concerned. If there is any movement will my neighbour have to put it right?
Libstar - 27-Aug-16 @ 8:56 PM
Mike84 - Your Question:
Hello, not long moved to a detached house, I have noticed my neighbor has attached stuff to the wall of my house in his side passage using screws and brackets etc, can he do this? Thanks

Our Response:
No he can't. You should ask him politely to remove them...he may not be aware that he shouldn't have attached anything to your wall. If he refuses and it's bothering you, your next course of action might be the civil courts.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Aug-16 @ 10:10 AM
Hello, not long moved to a detached house, I have noticed my neighbor has attached stuff to the wall of my house in his side passage using screws and brackets etc, can he do this? Thanks
Mike84 - 20-Aug-16 @ 7:20 AM
I have lived in my house for a year and couldn't understand where the damp smell was coming from after lifting floor boards its been notice the flats next door have blocked my air bricks and damp proof course with a path which runs down the side of my house I can't seem to get any help from anybody
rosie - 16-Aug-16 @ 9:36 PM
Anon- Your Question:
My neighbour has built a new boundry brick wall 6ft high out of breeze blocks running down between our driveways. The wall itself isn't the end of the world. The problem is they have only rendered and painted it on there side now leaving me staring at breeze block out of my kitchen window. Do I have any rights or is this now left as a cost for us to pick up. The wall is pretty large so I'm expecting it won't be cheap !

Our Response:
Firstly check whether planning permission is needed. Some walls at the front of a property (or the part visible from the highway) can only be 1m high. Also is the wall on your land too? Did you agree to allow the neighbour to build it there? If it's on the neighbour's side only and it belongs to them....and it has the relevant permission, you cannot paint it/render it/ or attach anything to it without their permission. Best to discuss this with your neighbour. Get them to have a look at it from your side so they can see what it looks like - they may be willing to contribute.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Aug-16 @ 2:13 PM
My neighbour has built a new boundry brick wall 6ft high out of breeze blocks running down between our driveways. The wall itself isn't the end of the world. The problem is they have only rendered and painted it on there side now leaving me staring at breeze block out of my kitchen window. Do I have any rights or is this now left as a cost for us to pick up. The wall is pretty large so I'm expecting it won't be cheap !
Anon - 11-Aug-16 @ 9:34 AM
wouldlike know? i would to build a extension 3m in my garden can my neighbourobject to build the wall half by me and half by him with a party wall agreement that he can use the wall when ever he want?
jan - 10-Aug-16 @ 10:55 PM
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