The “Party Wall Act” and how does it affect your home?

Fence and party wall actAs a homeowner, there may be instances where the boundaries of your house, garden or walls may come into question. Maybe you want to build an extension or change the fencing on your garden. You would hope that this is a straight forward process however there are legal obligations and necessities that you must adhere to which are documented in the Party Wall Act. To make sure you understand fully what is required, and also what is required from your neighbours if they wish to perform any alterations, you will benefit greatly from reading through the information listed below. Being informed will prevent any unfortunate or messy situations arising for either party involved.

The Party Wall Act Explained

In short, the Part Wall Act provides guidelines for the resolution and prevention of disputes relating to various boundaries and excavations with neighbouring buildings. The act was established in 1996, and put into force in 1997 so constitutes a legal framework that must be obeyed. These bullet points list the key facts:

– A property owner must notify their adjoining neighbour of any intention to start work.

– The adjoining neighbour can accept or refuse what is proposed.

– In the event of a disagreement, the Party Wall Act must be referred too.

– The act does not cover obtaining planning permission or buildings regulation.

So what is a party wall and what does the act cover?

Types of Party Wall

– A wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners and is part of a building (E.g. an outside house wall).

– A wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners that is not part of a building (E.g. a brick garden wall).

– A wall that is on one owners land, but is used by both owners for separation purposes.

What is included in the fact

– Cutting into a Party Wall.

– Changing the size of a Party Wall (Length, depth, height etc).

– Removing a chimney breast from a Party Wall.

– Rebuilding or demolishing a Party Wall.

– Excavating below the foundation level of a neighbours land.

How this affects your home

As you can see, it is not a simple process of deciding what work you want doing, and who will carry out said work.  You must give due consideration to your neighbours who may be affected by the work and ensure they have given consent for it to be carried out. The simplest way to approach this is to talk through with your neighbours about your intentions and explain to them how they may be affected.  If they are happy with what you want to do and give consent, then there is no issue. If they dispute it however and you cannot get written consent from them, you may ultimately need to get a surveyor involved.

Best practices are to be courteous and try to give as much notice and explanation as possible.  Consider the implications to your neighbour and think about how you would feel if the situation were reversed and you were suffering the inconvenience. Set out in writing what you would like to do, give them a time-frame and potential dates and try to be as flexible and accommodating as possible. You must give at least two months notice and also provide protection to any part of your neighbour’s property that may be damaged during the work.

For more information, the government has a helpful leaflet explaining the intricacies of the Party Wall Act, but generally if you use common sense and have a friendly chat with your neighbours, but at the same time give a written plan and get a written consent in return, there should be no issue.

Read More