The act contains provisions which relate to carrying out work on:
- providing new walls on the dividing line between properties;
- carrying out repairs to party structures between properties; and
- carrying out excavations within six metres of an adjoining owner's building or structure.
If you intend to carry out this type of building work you are advised to ensure that your professional advisor gives you specific guidance on how to satisfy the provisions of the new Act.
The basic requirements of the Act are outlined below for guidance only. It is not the intention to provide a full explanation of all the 22 sections on the Act. For full details the Act may be purchased from HMSO bookshops.
New buildings/walls built on the boundary with adjoining owner's property
At least one month before the intended start date of building work the owner of the building carrying out the work must serve a notice on any adjoining owner giving a description of the type of building or wall that it is intended to build.
If the adjoining owner does not consent to the building of the wall then it must not be built (even partially) on his land. In cases where the wall is built in line with the boundary, but not over it, then there is still a requirement to serve the one month notice but within twelve months there is a right to place below the level of the adjoining land simple foundations to support the wall. If the foundation is reinforced approval is required from the adjoining owner.
Compensation to adjoining owners is payable under the Act for any damage resulting from the building of the wall and its foundations.
Repairs to existing party walls
There is a right for owners to be able to repair (including the insertion of a new damp course) and even demolish and rebuild defective party walls or structures. Before exercising this right the building owner must serve a Party Structure Notice giving their name and address, details of the proposed work and the proposed date when the work will commence.
The party structure notice must be served at least two months before the date on which the proposed works will start. The adjoining building owner, may within one month, serve a counter notice describing works to be carried out which may be reasonably required to either the wall or its foundation.
If approval of the adjoining owner is not received or agreement with a counter notice is not reached within fourteen days beginning with the day on which the party structure notice or counter notice was served then it is deemed that there is dispute between the owners and the Act gives details on resolving such disputes.
Dangerous or neglected structures
A building owner is not required to serve a party structure notice before complying with a notice served by the local authority requiring compliance because of dangerous or neglected conditions.
If your proposed excavation is within three metres of an adjoining owner's structure and the excavation will be at a lower level than the bottom of the adjoining structure's foundation then a notice must be served. Where the proposed excavation is more than three metres but less than six metres from an adjoining structure the same requirement for the service of notices applies if the proposed excavation is within 45 degrees of the existing construction's foundations.
Loss or damage
A building owner, in having work carried out within the scope of this Act, is liable to compensate any adjoining owner and occupier for loss or damage and provide protection and security for the adjoining occupier.
In the event of disputes arising the Act gives detailed advice on the appointment of private surveyors to resolve the dispute.
A booklet has been produced by Communities and Local Government (external link) to explain in simple terms how the Party Wall etc Act 1996 may affect someone who either wishes to carry out work covered by the Act, or receives notification under the Act of proposed adjacent work.