Party Wall Act 1996

What is a 'Party Wall'?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 came into force on 1 July 1997. It is largely based on Part VI of the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939 and started life as a Private Members Bill sponsored by the Earl of Lytton. This overview is intended to introduce to you the Party Wall Act, a complex Act. It is not a statement of the law. The Act is not administered by Building Control and details provided here are solely for assistance.

For the purposes of the Act there are two main types of party wall. These are referred to as a ‘party wall’ and a ‘party fence wall’.

A wall is a ‘party wall’ if:

  • it forms part of a building and stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners
  • it separates buildings  either stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two or more different owners, or stands wholly on one owner’s land, but is used by two or more owners to separate their buildings.

Wooden fences are not included as a ‘party wall fence’, but garden walls are. Examples of work items affecting a ‘party wall’:

  • cutting into a wall to allow the seating of a beam, or insert a damp-proof course
  • raising the whole party wall, and cutting off any projections preventing the work
  • demolishing and rebuilding of the party wall
  • protecting two adjoining walls by putting a flashing from the higher to the lower
  • excavating, or constructing foundations for a new building or structure, within 3 metres (9 feet 9inches) of a neighbouring owner’s building or structure where the work will go deeper than the neighbour’s foundations
  • excavating, or constructing foundations for a new building or structure, within 6 metres of a neighbouring owner’s building or structure where the work would cut a line drawn at 45º from the bottom of the neighbour’s foundations

This is a very brief summary of a complicated Act. As always seek advice if in doubt.

Updated: 21 March 2014