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Your Rights Under the Party Wall Act 1996

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 3 Dec 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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Drained - Your Question:
Our neighbours have attached a cast iron gate fixing and also attached one side of their car port to the side of our detached house as the wall if our detached house runs alongside their driveway. What are my rights to ask them to remove the fixings from our house and make the gate and car port secure on their own property and remove any attachment to the wall of our house? Many thanks

Our Response:
You can ask them to remove anything that is attached to your property - in effect your neighbour is causing criminal damage to your property.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Dec-17 @ 12:10 PM
Our neighbours have attached a cast iron gate fixing and also attached one side of their car port to the side of our detached house as the wall if our detached house runs alongside their driveway. What are my rights to ask them to remove the fixings from our house and make the gate and car port secure on their own property and remove any attachment to the wall of our house? Many thanks
Drained - 3-Dec-17 @ 1:19 PM
Foxy - Your Question:
Our semi side neighbours are having a new roof without notification do we need a survey to reassure us that our roof is not comprised

Our Response:
If the work will affect any of your property structurally, your neighbour may need to serve a party wall notice. It is reasonable in any event, to ask to see the plans and request details of any measures taken to address damage should it occur (i.e check roofer's insurance policy etc).
ProblemNeighbours - 1-Dec-17 @ 2:59 PM
Our semi side neighbours are having a new roof without notification do we need a survey to reassure us that our roof is not comprised
Foxy - 30-Nov-17 @ 9:46 AM
Bitzy - Your Question:
Hi there. I am looking for some advice on my rights as a tenant. I have had no real issues with my private landlords in the nearly 9years I have lived where I do, but sometimes work does take a while to get done etc.The one issue I am having just now is with my neighbour, who spoke with me about the loft space above my property. Our properties connect as they are terraced cottages. I said to her at the time that as far as I was aware there was a hatch in the wall space in the loft but it looks small, and it only leads to the space above my daughters room.then there seems to be a solid wall. I said I would double check and I forgot to get back to her at the time as life got in the way. She never enquired again so there for I thought she had resolved the issue. She had apparently wanted to do some light fightings and wanted to know if the space above her living room was accessible from my loft. She has taken it upon herself to get in contact with my landlords to enquire about the space. I spoke with her about this and said to her that I would have apprenticed her coming back to me instead of getting in contact with my landlords. She has now said its to see if she can access for loft insulation also. And my landlord is going to come out and have a look at the loft space. I don't feel that it is unreasonable for it to have been me to speak with my landlord if we had seen there was access to her space. Also I don't feel that I should have to allow her access for work being done inside of her property. I would appreciate if someone could tell me if I have to allow her to gain access if there is a way through to her loft space and can my landlord insist I allow builders access for work being done on someone else's property and not my own. The neighbour got quite insulted that I questioned her about her speaking with my landlord but I do not feel it was right for her to do so!? She is telling me now if the work needs done my landlord will be in touch with me to arrange access. I've told her this is unfair and regardless if it is a rented property or not it is my Home and I have the right to say who comes and goes. Especially when it is not work my landlord themselves is taking out.Look forward to hearing back from someone. Thanks

Our Response:
Since you didn't get back to her, she was correct in going to your landlord (the property owner). If the work is necessary to repair electrics/improve insulation, she may be entiteld to access under the Access to Neighbouring Property Act especially as there is no alternative route to access the loft. It might be easier if you agree a convenient time to allow the work to be done and to agree any costs for damage and inconvience to you during the process.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Nov-17 @ 3:30 PM
Hi there. I am looking for some advice on my rights as a tenant. I have had no real issues with my private landlords in the nearly 9years I have lived where I do, but sometimes work does take a while to get done etc. The one issue I am having just now is with my neighbour, who spoke with me about the loft space above my property. Our properties connect as they are terraced cottages. I said to her at the time that as far as I was aware there was a hatch in the wall space in the loft but it looks small, and it only leads to the space above my daughters room.....then there seems to be a solid wall. I said I would double check and I forgot to get back to her at the time as life got in the way. She never enquired again so there for I thought she had resolved the issue. She had apparently wanted to do some light fightings and wanted to know if the space above her living room was accessible from my loft. She has taken it upon herself to get in contact with my landlords to enquire about the space. I spoke with her about this and said to her that I would have apprenticed her coming back to me instead of getting in contact with my landlords. She has now said its to see if she can access for loft insulation also. And my landlord is going to come out and have a look at the loft space. I don't feel that it is unreasonable for it to have been me to speak with my landlord if we had seen there was access to her space. Also I don't feel that I should have to allow her access for work being done inside of her property. I would appreciate if someone could tell me if I have to allow her to gain access if there is a way through to her loft space and can my landlord insist I allow builders access for work being done on someone else's property and not my own. The neighbour got quite insulted that I questioned her about her speaking with my landlord but I do not feel it was right for her to do so!? She is telling me now if the work needs done my landlord will be in touch with me to arrange access. I've told her this is unfair and regardless if it is a rented property or not it is my Home and I have the right to say who comes and goes. Especially when it is not work my landlord themselves is taking out. Look forward to hearing back from someone. Thanks
Bitzy - 17-Nov-17 @ 1:03 AM
Hi I am a little worried about my property a semi true bungalow the attic for storage my neighbour is having a lot of building work done to their bungalow, they have change the bedroom into kitchen which is now at the side of my bedroom but they are drilling constantly and I think they are running a staircase along side of my bedroom wall. I am not sure if this guy is a registered builder or electrician or a heating engineer. I dont know what to do because they are very arrogant people Iand I LIVE ON MY OWN.
jodie - 24-Oct-17 @ 1:41 PM
Frenchie - Your Question:
Hi my neighbour is saying that our garden wall is causing damp in her downstairs cellar we cant see anything wrong with the wall but she insists that we repoint the wall what are my rights

Our Response:
You should get an independent surveyor's report (or ask your neighbour to provide one) to see if what she's saying is true.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-Sep-17 @ 12:50 PM
Hi my neighbour is saying that our garden wall is causing damp in her downstairs cellar we cant see anything wrong with the wall but she insists that we repoint the wall what are my rights
Frenchie - 14-Sep-17 @ 10:28 AM
No party wall notice work started with no word to us
Kitkat - 3-May-17 @ 11:04 PM
A neighbour 3 times back in 2008, is it me or can't they settle, broke into my gable wall to insert roof supports for an exstension. (I DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE PARTY WALL ACT). We were alinked detached house, by the garage and small brick shed and are now linked by a 10' deep extension on the back of this which traverses mine and my neighbours gable. Last winter we noticed damp patches on the inside gable wall of our house which could possible be where the roof supports are and possible be touching the outside of our internal wall thus traversing the cavity. Is it to late to take any action against the previous owner? And How do I do that? How do I prove that the building work is possible the cause? And if it is how is it rectified?
Damp patch - 28-Apr-17 @ 10:46 AM
Hi..........My neighbours house wall runs along my boundary. He wants to come onto my land to render it. My question is that I have a prickly hedge growing alongside the wall and he wants to chop it down to gain access. I grew the hedge to block out my view of his wall as it is unsightly, do I have to let him chop it down? Thank you!
spud - 24-Apr-17 @ 3:30 PM
John - Your Question:
Semi detached.Neighbour has building work ,house extension. Work stopped some months ago. Window frames removed and left exposed. I notice some damp in my bedroom party wall, 1 metre from the exposed window. He lives off site,very rarely on site, same for the builders. I told him about the problem, his response was to deny any damp in the party wall. The damp patch is small area in the corner of the party wall the floor and external wall.Would like to know my rights and any suggestions for the next step I should take.

Our Response:
Get an expert to take a look at the reason for the damp patch. If it's attributable to the neighbour, then you should firstly talk to your insurer, then if it's not actionable by them, you might need to say your are going to take legal action if it's not made weather tight.
ProblemNeighbours - 19-Apr-17 @ 12:21 PM
semi detached.Neighbour has building work ,house extension. Work stopped some months ago. Window frames removed and left exposed. I notice some damp in my bedroom party wall, 1 metre from the exposed window. He lives off site,very rarely on site, same for the builders. I told him about the problem, his response was to deny any damp in the party wall. The damp patch is small area in the corner of the party wall thefloor and external wall. Would like to know my rights and any suggestions for the next step I should take.
John - 17-Apr-17 @ 8:15 AM
Bedlam - Your Question:
My neighbour is fully aware that I will be knocking down the excising wall and replacing with a higher oneHe has told me that he wants me to paint his side of the wall when completed doI have to do this ?

Our Response:
Assuming it's a garden wall that is also a party wall then it is shared by both of you and your neighbour can paint it if he wants. If the wall doesn't actually need repairing and you are doing this simply because you want a higher wall, then it's fair of the neighbour to ask you to paint it - if the previous wall was painted. If it's not a party wall (ie. it's owned by you), you do not have to paint it - nor should the neighbour paint it or attach anything to it without your permission.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-Apr-17 @ 12:17 PM
My neighbour is fully aware that i will be knocking down the excising wall and replacing with a higher one He has told me that he wants me to paint his side of the wall when completed doI have to do this ?
Bedlam - 9-Apr-17 @ 7:35 PM
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
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