The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

If you need a Party Wall surveyor, we are here to help. We have a range of Free Party Wall Notice Templates which you can download below. 

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However, specific building knowledge is required in order to effectively serve a Party Wall Notice that is valid, that's why you can count on us as your experienced and regulated chartered building professional to submit a Party Wall Notice on your behalf or act as your Party Wall Surveyor if you cannot make an agreement with your neighbor with a standard Party Wall Notice. 


We offer the following Party Wall Services;

  • Party Wall Notice
  • Schedule of Condition
  • Party Wall Award

What does the Act do?

The Act came into force on 1 July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales. (The Act does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland).

The Act provides a framework for preventing or resolving disputes in relation to party walls, party structures, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

Anyone intending to carry out work (anywhere in England and Wales) of the kinds described in the Act must give Adjoining Owners notice of their intentions. The Act applies even to Crown, government and local authority owned property.

What does the Act cover?

  • Various work that is going to be carried out directly to an existing party wall or party structure
  • New building at or astride the boundary line between properties 
  • Excavation within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring building(s) or structure(s), depending on the depth of the hole or proposed foundations.

Work may fall within more than one of the above categories and involve different types of buildings and structures for example, houses, garages and office buildings.

What is a party wall?

The Act recognises two main types of party wall.

Party wall type A

A wall is a “party wall” if it stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners.

Such a wall:

  • is part of one building (see diagram 1)
  • or separates two (or more) buildings (see diagram 2)
  • or consists of a “party fence wall” (see diagram 3)

A wall is a “party fence wall” if it is not part of a building, and stands astride the boundary line between lands of different owners and is used to separate those lands (for example a masonry garden wall). This does not include such things as wooden fences or hedges.

Party wall type B

A wall is also a “party wall” if it stands wholly on one owner’s land, but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings (see diagram 4).

An example would be where one person has built the wall in the first place, and another has built their building up against it without constructing their own wall.

Only the part of the wall that does the separating is “party” - sections on either side or above are not “party”.

The Act also uses the expression “party structure”. This is a wider term, which could be a wall or floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings approached by separate staircases or entrances for example flats (see diagram 5).

Walls that are not Party Walls:

These may include boundary walls (a fence wall/garden wall built wholly on one owner’s land) and external walls (the wall of a building built up to but not astride the boundary).

What does the Act say if I want to excavate near neighbouring buildings?

If you plan to:

  • excavate, or excavate for and construct foundations for a new building or structure, within 3 metres of any part of a neighbouring owner’s building or structure, where any part of that work will go deeper than the neighbour’s foundations (see diagram 6); or
  • excavate, or excavate for and construct foundations for a new building or structure, within 6 metres of any part of a neighbouring owner’s building or structure, where any part of that work will meet a line drawn downwards at 45° in the direction of the excavation from the bottom of the neighbour’s foundations (see diagram 7)

you must inform the Adjoining Owner or owners by serving a notice - see paragraphs 7 and 8.

You may want to base your notice on Example Letter 8.

Note that, for the purposes of section 6 of the Act, “Adjoining Owners” may include any owners of buildings or structures within the distances mentioned above even if another owner’s land or building separates it from your proposed work.

The notice must state whether you propose to strengthen or safeguard the foundations of the building or structure belonging to the Adjoining Owner. Plans and sections showing the location and depth of the proposed excavation or foundation and the location of any proposed building or structure must also accompany the notice.

The Act contains no enforcement procedures for failure to serve a notice. However, if you start work without having first given notice in the proper way, Adjoining Owners may seek to stop your work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Act change who owns the party wall?

No. The Act does not change the ownership of any wall, nor does it change the position of any boundary. Boundaries can still run through the centre of a wall, so that each owner may technically own half of a wall. However, it may help in understanding the principles of the Act if owners consider themselves joint owners of the whole of a party wall rather than the sole owner of half or part of it.

The Act sets out what rights an owner has in relation to works to a party wall and what he is obliged to do before he can exercise those rights.

Can the Act be used to resolve a boundary dispute?

No. The Act does not contain any provision that could be used to settle a boundary line dispute.

Such disputes can be resolved through the courts or through alternative dispute resolution procedures (which may be simpler, quicker and cheaper), for example mediation, decision by an independent expert or arbitration.

Does the Act supersede other legal rights including common law rights?

Common Law rights are restricted by this Act only to the extent that the Act would take precedence on any matter for which it makes provision and only when the correct notices have been given and the procedures correctly followed.

Any other rights, easements or covenants are not affected.

Who serves the Notice and how much notice should be given?

The Building Owner who wants to start work covered by the Act must give Adjoining Owners notice of their intentions. Generally, the notice should be given at least two months before the work is due to start or one month for new party walls or structures, and any excavation.

Can I send the Notice and/or other documents required under the Act by email?

Notices and other documents required under the Act may be served by delivering them in person, sending them by post, or sending them by email if the recipient has agreed to receive them by email, has not withdrawn that statement and has provided an email address to send the documents to.

Does the Building Owner have to wait for the full one or two months after serving a notice before starting work?

Yes, unless the Adjoining Owner agrees, in writing, to the work starting earlier than as stated in the notice.

What happens if a Building Owner does not serve a notice as required under the Act?

If the requirements of the Act are not followed, as with most property law matters (e.g. boundary disputes) it is a civil matter for the parties involved to resolve.

Where work has begun without notice being given, an adjoining owner can seek to stop the work through a court injunction.

What if an Adjoining Owner ignores the Notice?

For proposed work under section 2 (existing party walls and structures) and section 6 (excavation and construction) of the Act, if the adjoining owner does not respond after 14 days of being served a notice it would be considered a dispute has arisen.

For proposed work under section 1 (new building on line of junction) if the adjoining owner does not respond after 14 days of being served a notice the building owner may only build the new wall at his own expense and as an external wall wholly within his own land.

What happens if a dispute arises?

Both owners need to agree on an ‘Agreed Surveyor’ to produce an ‘Award’. Alternatively, each owner can appoint a surveyor to draw up an award together. A third surveyor is selected in case the two appointed surveyors cannot agree. The surveyors appointed and selected must consider the interests and rights of both owners.

What is a Party Wall Award?

It is a legal document that sets out the works to be carried out and how they are to be carried out. The surveyor/s will decide who pays the costs in producing the award and for any necessary checking that the work has been carried out according to the award.

What happens if I do not agree with what my appointed surveyor is doing?

You are unable to rescind his appointment, but you can approach the Third Surveyor to resolve the matter for you. However, if you have chosen to have just the one surveyor called ‘Agreed Surveyor’, then there is no Third Surveyor to call upon. This is why you should take care in selecting a surveyor and more particularly as to whether you just need the one ‘Agreed Surveyor’.

If there is no dispute does a surveyor need to be appointed?

No. If no dispute arises there is no requirement under the Act to appoint a surveyor.

What can I do if I am not happy with the conduct of a party wall surveyor?

Concerns about the conduct of a surveyor can be raised with the Citizens Advice consumer service and/or the trading standards body for the area concerned. Contact details can be found at:

If the surveyor is a member of a professional body, such as the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the relevant professional body can also be contacted to find out about the complaints procedures they have in place. If the surveyor is from a firm that has joined the Ombudsman Services a complaint may be raised with them.

Note: The above remedies are appropriate where you wish to dispute the way a surveyor(s) has carried out his task, but not where you are simply unhappy about the conclusions of the surveyor.

Can I build a new Party Wall astride a boundary?

Only if the Adjoining Owner agrees. If not you must build the wall wholly on your own land.

Can I use the Act to resolve my concerns over the work being carried out by my neighbour?

The Act contains no enforcement procedures. It is advisable to raise your concerns with the owner of the property first. Where surveyor/s prepare an Award they will endeavour to ensure your concerns are addressed in the way in which the works are carried out. If you cannot resolve the issues raised you may be able to seek redress through the civil courts. If either of the parties wishes to dispute the Award, they may appeal to the county court against the Award within 14 days, beginning with the day on which the award is served on them.

I have planning permission and building regulations approval - do I still have to go through the procedures in the Act?

The Act is separate from planning or building regulations control. Therefore, even if a building owner has planning permission and/or building regulations approval, they should still go through the proper procedures with their adjoining owners under the Act. However, not all work covered by the Act will require planning permission and/or building regulations approval.

Why didn’t the local authority tell me about the Party Wall Act?

Many local authorities inform those seeking planning permission or building regulations approval of the Party Wall Act as a matter of good practice but there is no requirement for them to do so.

What can be done if my neighbour’s work causes damage to my property but the work is not covered by the Act?

If work is not covered by the Act, at common law an owner has the right not to have his property damaged by someone else, and where a property is interfered with as a necessary part of the work to a neighbouring property they have the right for it to be put back in good condition. If a building owner does not put right any damage caused, the adjoining owner has the option of taking legal action to enforce their rights. The adjoining owner would need to be able to prove that they have suffered damage or loss. Anyone considering taking legal action is strongly advised to seek their own legal advice before taking any action.

If I sell my house do I have to inform the purchaser that there has been a notice and/or dispute under the Act?

The property information forms, which are completed by the seller as part of the conveyancing process may include questions on the Act including whether there has been a dispute.