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Your Rights Under the Party Wall Act 1996

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 11 Oct 2018 | 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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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
David - Your Question:
We have recently had a loft conversion carried out by a building company.We served party wall agreements and discussed plans with each adjoining neighbour of our terrace row, they signed and returned to us within the 14 days, 2+ months before work started. We did not appoint a party wall surveyor, we did the party wall agreement ourselves. Subsequently around 2 months after the work was completed, one neighbour has a problem of water leaking through a back wall, below an area of a rear extension flat roof.It has rained several times heavily since the work was complete but, during very heavy all day long rain recently, 500mL of water was collected from under the top back wall adjoining property, where a flat roof of their terrace rear extension meets the back wall of the property, approx. 1 meter away from the party wall. I think this could have been caused by additional rain water from the vertical side of the new dormer flowing into a blocked broken gutter flowing over the facure board and back wall.The building company have inspected the area twice, and they can see no damage to the flat asphalt roof, and also put in writing if there was any damage they would make it good for no charge, but they did make the adjoining owner aware of an existing crack in the flashing render, which was repair was offered during our building work but was refused at cost to the neighbouring owner earlier during our loft work.The building company when inspecting the neighbours roof twice, have cleared moss and dirt and re fixed a broken gutter above the leak, and also applied mastic to several small cracks in the render above the leaking area, with one of the render cracks being below the leaking gutter, with no charge as a good will gesture, and the gutter also has the wrong direction of fall on it so water does not drain to the down pipe, but pools in the gutter when re-fixed as the brackets are not in the correct position previously.We have been informed by our builders that they believe it is very unlikely that the leak has been caused by damage to the party wall, no beams have been cut in the wall around that area, but more likely to be water flowing out from the then broken gutter, onto cracked render below. We trust their judgement as they have been very considerate and honest all the way through our loft conversion.Our neighbours have been very quick to accuse us of the problem, in what feels an aggressive manor, by saying that we have had our loft converted and two months later they have water coming in, fix it.Who would be liable for the repairs ? or do we need to involve a Party wall surveyor to resolve the issue, as we don’t believe we have caused any damage we believe our builders that the issue appears to be caused by lack of maintenance of the neighbours guttering/render ?

Our Response:
If your builders are sure their work was not the cause of the problem, your neighbour should commission an independent surveyor to establish the cause. If this identifies your building work as the cause, of course then you should make it right. If not, your neighbour should contact their insurer or pay for the repair themselves.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Sep-18 @ 10:45 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 have recently had a loft conversion carried out by a building company. We served party wall agreements and discussed plans with each adjoining neighbour of our terrace row, they signed and returned to us within the 14 days, 2+ months before work started. We did not appoint a party wall surveyor, we did the party wall agreement ourselves. Subsequently around 2 months after the work was completed, one neighbour has a problem of water leaking through a back wall, below an area of a rear extension flat roof. It has rained several times heavily since the work was complete but, during very heavy all day long rain recently, 500mL of water was collected from under the top back wall adjoining property, where a flat roof of their terrace rear extension meets the back wall of the property, approx. 1 meter away from the party wall.I think this could have been caused by additional rain water from the vertical side of the new dormer flowing into a blocked broken gutter flowing over the facure board and back wall. The building company have inspected the area twice, and they can see no damage to the flat asphalt roof, and also put in writing if there was any damage they would make it good for no charge, but they did make the adjoining owner aware of an existing crack in the flashing render, which was repair was offered during our building work but was refused at cost to the neighbouring owner earlier during our loft work. The building company when inspecting the neighbours roof twice, have cleared moss and dirt and re fixed a broken gutter above the leak, and also applied mastic to several small cracks in the render above the leaking area, with one of the render cracks being below the leaking gutter, with no charge as a good will gesture, and the gutter also has the wrong direction of fall on it so water does not drain to the down pipe, but pools in the gutter when re-fixed as the brackets are not in the correct position previously. We have been informed by our builders that they believe it is very unlikely that the leak has been caused by damage to the party wall, no beams have been cut in the wall around that area, but more likely to be water flowing out from the then broken gutter, onto cracked render below. We trust their judgement as they have been very considerate and honest all the way through our loft conversion. Our neighbours have been very quick to accuse us of the problem, in what feels an aggressive manor, by saying that we have had our loft converted and two months later they have water coming in, fix it. Who would be liable for the repairs ? or do we need to involve a Party wall surveyor to resolve the issue, as we don’t believe we have caused any damage we believe our builders that the issue appears to be caused by lack of maintenance of the neighbours guttering/render ?
David - 6-Sep-18 @ 1:42 PM
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
Jaz - Your Question:
My neighbours is terraced property did considerable building work last year from installing bathroom upstairs to hammering so loud downstairs my house shook. After that we could clearly hear conversations through wall on bottom level. We went to building control in sussex but they said it was noise issue-we went to noise control and they told us it was a building control issue as it arose after 9 months of building works. Today when they have parties we hear conversations , laughing and even sneezing through our tv room and adjacent dining room. I also hear it through my bedroom wall, which is the same wall as the one in dining room and tv room. It’s so loud I can hear conversations. I can’t go upstairs to bed as it goes through that wall as well. A builder told me that they had probably shaved off the party wall. As out house is Victorian they should be 8 inches think but he thinks it’s now a single brick thickness. What can we do if building control refuse to help? It’s Driving is crazy but the neighbours are nasty and refused to hear our concerns.Can anyone help us? We have recordings to show it’s coming through into three rooms.There must be some regress? They never told us that they would be drilling out the shared party wall.

Our Response:
Go back to environmental health and make a noise complaint (don't mention the building works if they're no longer ongoing). If that fails to produce a solution or they can't take action, you can complain about a nuisance problem direct to the Magistrates Court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Magistrates Court will need to be persuaded that the nuisance problem amounts to a statutory nuisance.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Jun-18 @ 2:53 PM
My neighbours is terraced property did considerable building work last year from installing bathroom upstairs to hammering so loud downstairs my house shook. After that we could clearly hear conversations through wall on bottom level. We went to building control in sussex but they said it was noise issue-we went to noise control and they told us it was a building control issue as it arose after 9 months of building works. Today when they have parties we hear conversations , laughing and even sneezing through our tv room and adjacent dining room. I also hear it through my bedroom wall, which is the same wall as the one in dining room and tv room. It’s so loud I can hear conversations. I can’t go upstairs to bed as it goes through that wall as well. A builder told me that they had probably shaved off the party wall. As out house is Victorian they should be 8 inches think but he thinks it’s now a single brick thickness. What can we do if building control refuse to help? It’s Driving is crazy but the neighbours are nasty and refused to hear our concerns. Can anyone help us? We have recordings to show it’s coming through into three rooms... There must be some regress? They never told us that they would be drilling out the shared party wall.
Jaz - 9-Jun-18 @ 11:26 PM
hazzy - Your Question:
My neighbour has knocked down our party wall at the back of his property and has built an extention without planning permission which some of the building is where the party wall was he never asked if he could knock down the party wall or served notice , he said he has every right to do this , is he right or is what he has done illegal

Our Response:
If it is definitely a party wall, there is arequirement to inform all neighbours two months in advance if you intend to carry out any structural work, including demolition. If your neighbour is refusing to accept any responsibility, you may need to seek recompense via the legal system.
ProblemNeighbours - 30-May-18 @ 3:30 PM
I wish to have more privacy in my garden and want to put a 1ft high trellis screen over the top of a shared boundary wall. The wall then connects to my side of a passageway that my neighbor has rights of passage and also to a brick build shed that is owned by me. My neighbor has stated she does not want to wall altered in any way. Therefore I have proposed to screw wooden batons to each of my brick walls to secure the trellis and have it 'floating' and inch about the walls height' It would be none permanent, and will not damage the wall, restrict any kind of access. I just want some privacy from a very grumpy and nosey neighbor Can I do this under the boundary wall act 1996. Do I need to serve a notice on my neighbor for this? Thank you
Gemmal - 30-May-18 @ 7:45 AM
my neighbour has knocked down our party wall at the back of his property and has built an extention without planning permission which some of the building is where the party wall was he never asked if he could knock down the party wall or served notice , he said he has every right to do this , is he right or is what he has done illegal
hazzy - 26-May-18 @ 7:53 PM
Skatey - Your Question:
The house next door to mine was sold to a builder who knocked down all the walls and moved the stairs against our a joining wall. It's creating alot of nosey against my wall. Does he have to get planning permission or anything or notify me what he was doing?

Our Response:
This kind of work would not normally require planning permission- but your neighbour should probably have served a party wall notice 2months before the work commenced if they were altering structure of the adjoining wall by cutting in/attaching stairs to it. Unfortunately the Party Wall Act contains no enforcement procedures for failure to serve a notice but you as the adjoining owners could try and stop the work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress/damages.
ProblemNeighbours - 22-May-18 @ 11:02 AM
The house next door to mine was sold to a builder who knocked down all the walls and moved the stairs against our a joining wall. It's creating alot of nosey against my wall. Does he have to get planning permission or anything or notify me what he was doing?
Skatey - 15-May-18 @ 6:19 PM
E - Your Question:
Our neighbour recently had his attic extended. We have a party wall agreement signed. Timbers fell off his roof and smashed our roof and car (£10,000 worth of damage). The car was insured. The house roof was not. The builder has public liability insurance but won't liaise with his insurer so thier hands are tied and they can't pay out. Can we sue our neighbour either under the party wall agreement or under common law? We can sue the builder but he is dodgy and knows how to play the system so unlikely we would be able to recover any funds. I would like to raise an action jointly against the builder and our neighbour.

Our Response:
You need to seek professional legal advice over this, but the neighbour does have a contract with the builder and not you, so potentially the neighbour could be responsible if the builder doesn't pay.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-May-18 @ 10:54 AM
Our neighbour recently had his attic extended. We have a party wall agreement signed. Timbers fell off his roof and smashed our roof and car (£10,000 worth of damage). The car was insured. The house roof was not. The builder has public liability insurance but won't liaise with his insurer so thier hands are tied and they can't pay out. Can we sue our neighbour either under the party wall agreement or under common law? We can sue the builder but he is dodgy and knows how to play the system so unlikely we would be able to recover any funds. I would like to raise an action jointly against the builder and our neighbour.
E - 13-May-18 @ 1:25 PM
Sooz - Your Question:
Neighbours are extending their detached property, adding a bedroom above the garage and extending out behind the garage. They showed us CAD plans and it didn't seem a problem. We didn't object. However the building is too close for comfort to our own detached property so much so that if we wanted to put scaffolding up - we couldn't. The builder told me he changed the plans because it was bigger than it is now and assures us it will not overhang into our boundary but it is making me uneasy. It feels too close for comfort and if he went off plan once.!! The couple said I wouldn't have a leg to stand on now if I wanted to lodge a complaint and as far as they're concerned they've done everything right. Is there anything I can do?

Our Response:
If the plans show the build is within the boundary and the builders do not stick to the plans, talk to your planning department.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-May-18 @ 3:44 PM
Neighbours are extending their detached property, adding a bedroom above the garage and extending out behind the garage. They showed us CAD plans and it didn't seem a problem. We didn't object. However the building is too close for comfort to our own detached property so much so that if we wanted to put scaffolding up - we couldn't. The builder told me he changed the plans because it was bigger than it is now and assures us it will not overhang into our boundary but it is making me uneasy. It feels too close for comfort and if he went off plan once....!! The couple said I wouldn't have a leg to stand on now if I wanted to lodge a complaint and as far as they're concerned they've done everything right. Is there anything I can do?
Sooz - 10-May-18 @ 6:00 PM
Hi, just started work on a single level extension, and the builders have had to stop work, due to the neighbors foundations for their extension being too thin. (It’s a party wall) What does this mean, and what should I do next? Many thanks.
Vinnie - 23-Apr-18 @ 11:09 PM
We’re private owners mid terrace between housing association homes. Works started to add external insulation; we knew nothing of this but didn’t feel it an issue. No party wall agreement despite housing association saying they posted one. Things escalated quickly with unprofessional workmen, intimidating, using our land as access, blocking path as trying to exit. Rubbish thrown in our skip, plus cigarette butts etc. all over drive. Escalated when our flat roof of extension was used as cut through and work station. Staring through windows at me. Downpipe torn from our guttering causing huge overflow and issues. Temporary downpipe for neighbour located over our boiler flue resulting in flood. Then building (rendering) over 2 metres into our boundary wall blocking cabling etc. When reported torn down without permission leaving damage. Fibres from insulation cut at site of locating so debris in our home. Severe allergic reactions. How do we deal with this?!
Lauza55 - 19-Apr-18 @ 10:26 PM
funnynannaa - Your Question:
Hi me and my neighbour have a water leak caused by problems with the party wall above roof. we are both in agreement but we have been given different solutions by builders/roofers that we have called in to quote. one roofer told us that it might be a problem if we take it down altogether make good and tille like a few other properties have in our road. he seemed to think it would be something to do with fire regs and that surveyers for prospective buyers might want it to be reinstigated. obviously we want to do it properly first time. there is a chimney but that would stay. any ideas thanks.

Our Response:
We can't really help with this. It might be worth giving your local council's building control officer a call and asking them - they will be able to advise on any fire regs/building regs issued.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Apr-18 @ 12:42 PM
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