What is a Party Wall?
A party wall is a wall that divides a building between two owners (e.g. the vertical wall between two neighbouring terraced houses).
There are however, other forms of party walls such as a party fence or a party structure.
Party fence – this stands on a boundary but has no buildings attached (e.g. a garden wall).
- Party structure – this wider term includes Party Walls and also applies to horizontal structures (e.g. the floors and ceilings between two adjoining flats)
Party Wall Act 1996
The Party Wall Act 1996 was enacted because building works by a building owner can cause damage to an adjoining owner’s party wall.
For example, works could include:
- Building or demolishing a party wall structure;
- Carrying out repairs to a party wall structure;
- Excavating a site up to 6 metres from neighbouring buildings.
What to consider?
If you are considering carrying out works to a party wall or works that may affect the wall, you should contact a surveyor – at your expense – who:
- can assess the works;
- carry out a report; and
- advise you on serving a Notice;
If you fail to serve a Notice can result in serious consequences. Bear in mind that a Notice does not remove the need to comply with planning requirements, such a building regulations.
What to do if you are served with a Notice?
If you have been served with a Notice, you may consent in writing to the works being carried out within 14 days.
If you consent to the works carried out but then suffer damage due to the works being carried out, you can still pursue your rights under the Party Wall Act 1996.
What to do if you are in dispute
If a Notice has not been served or served incorrectly, then you should seek legal advice in order to obtain an injunction to stop the works being carried out until a surveyor is appointed to approve the works. There are further claims that can be made for costs, compensation and damages.