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The Party Wall Act

The Party Wall Act 1996 came into force on the 1st July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales. It provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

If you are intending to carry out any excavation work within three to six metres of an adjoining property (dependent on depth), construct a new building on or astride the boundary or are carrying out alterations to an existing party wall then you must give adjoining owners notice of intention to this fact.

It is best to discuss any proposed work with your neighbours first and agree the finer points of the work and not to surprise them with a notice, but you must give written notice not less than two months prior to the commencement of any work.

The notice is only valid for one year so it is best not to serve it too early.

There is no official form for this notice so a letter of intent will suffice.  However, this must contain your own name and address, the address of the building to be worked on, a full description of work and the commencement date.  If you have any plans these would be helpful to enable your neighbours to obtain a clear understanding of the proposed work. The notice should be dated and it is advisable to make it known that it is a notice under the provisions of the Party Wall Act.

The person who receives the notice can do one of three things; give consent, dissent, or do nothing. If after fourteen days your neighbour has done nothing or dissented then a dispute is regarded to have arisen. You can then agree to appoint a third party or “agreed surveyor” to help you move forward.

You do not need legal help for the Party Wall Act but it may be helpful to employ the services of your agent/designer if you are unsure.

More information about the Party Wall Act can be viewed at www.partywallact.org.uk

23rd September 2013