Nature & Purpose of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996:

A Simple Summary

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 regulates the relationship between neighbouring owners concerning specified types of construction work.

The Act regulates construction operations in three distinct situations:

1) Line of junction works – e.g. Construction of a new building or boundary wall at or astride the boundary line between properties.

2) Works to an existing party wall or structure e.g. To cut into a wall to take the bearing of a steel beam (loft conversions).

3) Adjacent excavation works within 3 or 6 metres of a neighbouring building, e.g. When laying foundations for new extensions.

The Act facilitates construction operations in the vicinity of boundaries, providing a procedural framework that ensures neighbours are notified of impending construction works.

Provided that the procedures under the Act are strictly followed, the Act authorises work that may involve physical encroachment (entry) onto a neighbours land, or produce dust, vibration, noise or some other inconvenience or annoyance in order to execute the works. (However work must be carried out in such a way so as not to cause unnecessary inconvenience).

The act contains no enforcement procedures for failure to serve a notice. However, if you start work without having first given notice, the adjoining owners may seek to stop your work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress if any damage to their property or land occurs during your works.

An Adjoining Owner cannot stop someone from exercising the rights given to them by the Act, but may be able to influence how and at what times the work is done.

Further recommended reading:

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996: Explanatory Booklet

Published by Department for Communities and Local Government.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Published by HMSO.