The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.
A building owner proposing to start work covered by the Act must give adjoining owners notice of their intentions in the way set down in the Act.
Once you’ve been given a notice from your neighbour, you can:
- Give consent in writing
- Refuse consent, which will start the dispute resolution process
- Serve a counter notice requesting additional works be done at the same time (they’ll have to pay for these if they benefit from the works)
Your neighbour must let you know in writing within 14 days if they consent to your notice, and you must do the same with any counter notice. A counter notice must be served within a month of the first notice.
Your neighbours need to respond to the notice. You can’t assume that no response means they agree to the works.
The dispute resolution process will also start if they don’t respond to your notice within the given time.
If you can’t agree with your neighbour
You must appoint a surveyor if you and your neighbour can’t agree. You can appoint a surveyor together or each appoint your own. The surveyors will then agree on a ‘party wall award’.
This is a legal document which says:
- What work should happen
- How and when it will be carried out
- Who will pay for which part and how much will be paid (including surveyor’s fees)
You can’t act as your own surveyor.