Party Wall

Our party wall team are ready to help with the resolution of disputes and drafting agreements. 

What is a Party Wall?

A party wall is a wall that forms part of a building and stands on lands of two different owners (e.g. walls between terraced houses) or a wall that is on one owner’s land and separates buildings belonging to two different owners. In addition, a party structure can be a party wall or a floor or partition separating buildings or parts of buildings (e.g. flats). Boundary walls can be party fence walls if they sit astride boundaries, but not if they are owned solely by one owner. 

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies to residential and commercial property in England and Wales and was designed to enable some work to be carried out that would otherwise be illegal and to prevent work being carried out that could potentially compromise or damage any properties adjoining the party wall or near to excavation works. When applied correctly, the Party Wall Act is intended to prevent disputes between neighbours and to help resolve any disputes arising. 

Litigation Party Wall - Vickery Holman

When do I need a Party Wall Agreement?

You must tell your neighbours and provide them with a Party Wall Notice before you start work on a party wall or near your neighbour’s structures; we recommend you serve the notice at least 3-4 months before starting work to allow time for any Award to be produced. You need to have a Party Wall Consent or Award in place before work commences. The Party Wall Notice needs to be served by you as the person having the work done.

There are some specific types of work that may require you to have a Party Wall Agreement:
  • Any work to shared walls between two properties
  • Some work on shared ‘party structures’ such as ceilings or floors between flats or offices
  • Work on shared boundary walls
  • Underpinning or excavation works within 3 or 6 metres of your neighbour’s structure (depending on depth of excavation)
  • Inserting a damp proof course into a party wall
  • Making a party wall thicker, longer or higher
  • Building an extension above a party wall

If you are simply drilling holes for shelves or replastering, for example, you do not need a party wall agreement. 

Key Contacts

Litigation Case Studies

Party Walls FAQs

A Party Wall Agreement is compulsory for anyone carrying out certain work to shared structures or within 3-6m of neighbouring structures. A written notice needs to be submitted, preferably several months before the work starts. Typical projects requiring a Party Wall Agreement are excavation for foundations, loft conversions, extensions and removing a chimney stack.

If you do the work without a Party Wall Agreement, your neighbour can seek a Court Injunction to stop you proceeding. If any damage is incurred to your neighbour’s property, and there was no Party Wall Agreement, you may have to pay additional costs in compensation.

There is no formal qualification to be a Party Wall Surveyor, even a chartered surveyor may not be conversant with the Party Wall etc. Act, so you should ensure any advice you receive is from a suitably experienced surveyor. Other affiliations such as being a member of the Pyramus and Thisbe Club may also indicate a surveyors interest and wider involvement in the Act.

A Party Wall Notice is a written intention of work to be carried out and must be served no less than two months before the work commences. You should write to your affected neighbour(s), including your contact information, comprehensive details of the work that you have planned, the date that work will start, as well as any access requirements over their property, such as gaining access for scaffolding or undertaking work. In the case of adjoining leasehold properties, you must serve notice to the building’s owners as well as to the tenant(s) living there. 

You can serve Notice up to a year before the work starts but it must be at least two months beforehand. It is recommended that you talk to the neighbours in person so that you can answer any questions and prepare them for receiving the Party Wall Notice. 

If your neighbour refuses consent, this triggers a dispute resolution process. Your neighbour needs to respond to the Party Wall Notice within 14 days to agree to appoint your party wall surveyor or appoint their own. The surveyor(s) will then review the information and produce an Award that determines the nature and timing of the proposed works. Your surveyor can appoint another surveyor on behalf of an adjoining owner who does not respond to the notice. If your neighbour agrees to the works in writing, you don’t need the Party Wall Award. 

You risk alienating your neighbours and being in breach of a ‘statutory duty’. Your neighbours could claim that their property has been damaged by your works and without a record of the condition of their property (usually appended to an Award), it may be difficult prove anything to the contrary. You may have to pay for repairs that you may not have caused, and you could also have an injunction placed on you to stop work until an Award is in place. If you need work doing to your party wall, please talk to our building surveying team first. Our head of Neighbourly Matters is Kirsty Worden. We are very experienced with dispute resolution too so if matters have reached that stage, get in touch here.

If your neighbour is starting work to a shared wall or excavation within 3-6m of your property, and the work is covered by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, but you have not been served Notice, we recommend you talk to your neighbour immediately and ask if they intend to serve a Party Wall Notice. While you can decide to consent anyway, you must be given the opportunity to consent or not. If you are concerned that work is proceeding without notice or agreement, the remedy is to apply for a Court Injunction to halt the work. If damage is incurred by you, and the neighbour didn’t apply for a Party Wall Agreement, you can sue for damage under Common Law. The Courts will nearly always favour the other party over the neighbour who has not been compliant with the Party Wall Act.

See what our clients say about us