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Party Wall etc Act 1996

Generally the walls that surround property and fields are erected and maintained by the land owner. These are erected to provide security, privacy and to mark boundaries between different landowners.

The Party Wall Act came into effect on 1 July 1997 throughout England and Wales. This Act provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes that may arise between neighbouring owners regarding party wall and similar matters when building works are undertaken.

The Act has implications for all building owners intending to carry out work which involves:

  1. work on an existing wall shared with another property
  2. building on the boundary with a neighbouring property
  3. excavating near a neighbouring building.

This can include works such as the formation of a through-lounge, removal of chimney breasts, extensions and loft conversions, even if the work will not extend beyond the centre line of the party wall.

Your responsibilities

  • You must find out whether the work proposed falls within the Act.
  • If it does, you must notify all affected neighbours (in writing).
  • This can be up to two months before you start work so you must ensure that you allow sufficient time.
  • If you start work without having first given notice in the proper way, adjoining owners may seek redress through the Courts.

Important notes

  • This Act is independent of the Building Regulations and Planning legislation.
  • Neither Building Control nor Planning can act on your behalf concerning these matters.
  • If you are not sure whether the Act applies to the work you are planning, you should seek independent professional advice.

A free publication – The Party Wall, etc Act 1996 – Explanatory Booklet is available to download from the Communities website.

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