Party wall advice

Party walls - adjoining owner's rights

What is a party wall?

A Party Wall is a wall shared by two (or more) properties which is usually divided by the boundary line but can include a wall, solely on one property, where an adjoining building derives support from it. It could also include a freestanding garden wall if it is built astride the boundary.  Fences are not included in this definition.

What are my rights?

The building owner is legally obliged to give you Notice and details of the proposed works which, structurally affect the Party Wall or of any excavations close to the Wall.  If you do not respond to a Notice within 14 days a dispute is deemed to have arisen.

What if I am not happy with their proposal?

You are advised to let the adjoining owner know as soon as possible and to appoint your own surveyor, if necessary, to check out the proposals and safeguard your own interests.

Should I appoint my own surveyor?

If you cannot decide on an "agreed surveyor" acting for both you and your neighbour, for whatever reason and if after discussing the proposals with your neighbour you are not satisfied or you still have concerns you should choose a qualified person experienced in dealing with Party Wall matters. An Institution such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors will supply you with a list of local surveyors. (Surveyors engaged for the purposes of the Act should act on an impartial basis).

Who pays?

The building owner carrying out the work is expected to pay all reasonable costs.  

What is the Council's role in this?

Where these works involve an application, the Building Control Section will carry out inspections to ensure the work is structurally sound and complies with the Building Regulations but cannot act on your behalf regarding this legislation.

What about access to my land by my neighbour?

Under the Act, you must allow your neighbour's workmen and surveyors access to your land in so far as it relates to work in connection with the party wall. However, the adjoining owner must give you 14 days' notice of their intention to exercise these rights of entry if agreement hasn't already been reached

What if I refuse entry?

It is an offence, which can be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court, to refuse entry or obstruct someone who is entitled to enter premises under the Act.

Legal Note

This information is not an authorative interpretation of the law and no substitute for the Act itself. 

Reaching agreement with your neighbour under the Act does not remove the possible need for Planning Permission or Building Regulation approval. 

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 leaflet gives more detail.

Building control

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