Housing – guidance

Preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls

Information on carrying out building work under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, or what to do if your neighbour tells you they're about to carry out work.

Introduction

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

A building owner proposing to start work covered by the Act must give adjoining owners notice of their intentions in the way set down in the Act. Adjoining owners can agree or disagree with what is proposed. Where they disagree, the Act provides a mechanism for resolving disputes.

The Act is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval.

What is a party wall?

The main types of party walls are:

  • a wall that stands on the lands of 2 (or more) owners and forms part of a building - this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners
  • a wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners but does not form part of a building, such as a garden wall but not including timber fences
  • a wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by 2 (or more) owners to separate their buildings

The Act also uses the expression ‘party structure’. This could be a wall or floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings in different ownership, such as in flats.

What the Act covers

The Act covers:

  • new building on or at the boundary of 2 properties
  • work to an existing party wall or party structure
  • excavation near to and below the foundation level of neighbouring buildings

This may include:

  • building a new wall on or at the boundary of 2 properties
  • cutting into a party wall
  • making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
  • removing chimney breasts from a party wall
  • knocking down and rebuilding a party wall
  • digging below the foundation level of a neighbour’s property

Explanatory booklet

This provides detailed guidance on the Party Wall etc Act 1996. The guidance explains how the Act may affect a building owner who wishes to carry out work covered by the Act or an adjoining building owner who receives notification under the Act of proposed work.

This guidance has been further updated in January 2015 to make it clearer and provide answers to more regularly asked questions. For example: What a party wall award can cover? What to do if a building becomes unsafe? Or, there is excessive noise from the work being carried out? And what is the role of the surveyor?

The Party Wall etc Act 1996: explanatory booklet

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Example letters

Templates for the example letters in Part 5 of the guidance are available to download.

Example letter 1: party structure notice

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Example letter 2: positive acknowledgement of party structure notice

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Example letter 3: negative acknowledgement of party structure notice

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Example letter 4: line of junction notice - new wall astride the boundary

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Example letter 5: acknowledgement of line of junction notice - new

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Example letter 6: line of junction notice - new wall wholly on your own land

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Example letter 7: acknowledgement of line of junction notice - new wall wholly on your own land

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Example letter 8: 3/6 metre notice

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Example letter 9: positive acknowledgement of 3/6 metre notice

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Example letter 10: negative acknowledgement of 3/6 metre notice

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Further information

We continue to welcome feedback on how useful you have found the publication to help us improve guidance on the Party Wall etc Act 1996 in the future by completing the following short survey.