The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 ("the Act") concerns building works affecting party walls and structures. If you intend to carry out building work to, or close to, a wall on or near the boundary of your property then the Act could apply.
Works caught by the Act include:
- work directly to the existing party wall or structure;
- the construction of a new building at or across a boundary line; or
- excavations within a specified distance of a neighbouring building or structure.
If the works do fall within the Act then you are required to serve notice on the adjoining owners prior to commencing the works. The Act stipulates varying notice periods depending on the nature of the works proposed. There may well be more than one adjoining owner you must notify of the works. Informal consultation with adjoining owners prior to serving formal notices is generally recommended.
If you fail to serve the necessary notice an adjoining owner may be entitled to seek an injunction until the requirements of the Act have been complied with. If you have served the necessary notice, an adjoining owner cannot prevent you from carrying out works you are entitled to undertake, but they can raise a dispute in response to the notice. This can trigger a statutory procedure under the Act which requires a party wall surveyor to be instructed to govern the manner in which the works are carried out.