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Preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls.

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What to do if your neighbour tells you they’re going to perform work under the Party Wall etc Act 1996, or what to do if your neighbour tells you they’re going to conduct work. How can you go about preventing and resolving party wall disputes?


The Party Wall etc Act 1996 establishes a legal framework for avoiding and resolving conflicts over party walls, boundary barriers, and excavations near neighbouring structures.

A building owner who intends to begin work covered by the Act shall notify neighbouring owners in the manner prescribed by the Act. Adjacent property owners might approve or disagree with the proposal. The Act offers a framework for settling issues when they disagree.

The Act is distinct from seeking planning authority or approval under the Building Regulations.

What is a party wall?

The main types of party walls are:

  • A wall that connects the lands of two (or more) owners and is part of a structure; this wall can be part of a single structure or distinct structures owned by various owners.
  • A wall that divides two owners’ grounds but isn’t part of a structure, such as a garden wall, but excludes timber fences.
  • A wall built on one owner’s land but used by two (or more) owners to divide their structures.

The term “party structure” is also used throughout the Act. This might be a wall, floor partition, or other structure that separates buildings or sections of structures that are owned by various people, such as in flats.


What the Act covers

The Act covers:

  • Excavation at and below the foundation level of neighbouring structures.
  • New building on or near the boundary of two properties. 
  • Work to an existing party wall or party structure.

This may include:

  • Erecting a new wall between two properties or on the property line.
  • Cutting into a party wall.
  • Making a party wall taller, shorter, or deeper.
  •  Removing chimney breasts from a party wall.
  •  Tearing down and rebuilding a party wall.
  •  Excavating below a neighbour’s foundation level.

Explanatory booklet

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is covered in depth in this document. The guideline describes how the Act may impact a building owner who intends to do Act-covered work or a neighbouring building owner who receives notice of intended work under the Act. 

The guidelines was revised again in May 2016 to reflect changes to the Act that now enable the electronic delivery of notifications and other documents that are required under the Act if both the sender and receiver agree.

Further Information:

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Reina D'costa

Dual qualified, experienced, practical and proactive solicitor. Founder of Bizlaw UK, a new model legal service consultancy.