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Last edited 28 Dec 2021
Party wall notice
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is an enabling Act, insofar as it grants the owner of a property the legal right to undertake certain works that might otherwise constitute trespass or nuisance. However, it also seeks to protect the interests of adjoining owners from any potentially adverse effects that such works might have by imposing a requirement that they are given notice prior to the start of the work. This communication is known as a party wall notice.
 Issuing the notice
The Act contains no enforcement procedures for failure to serve a notice. However, if work begins without the property owner having first given notice in the proper way, adjoining owners may seek to stop the work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress.
According to the Act, the property owner should give notice to adjoining owners between two months and a year before building works begin. Depending on the circumstances of any given project, there may be more than one adjoining owner on whom notice needs to be served in respect of the same work and, in the case of deep excavations, an adjoining owner may be other than an immediate neighbour.
 Scope of the notice
The notice should give an overview of the proposed works, which might include plans and sections.
The party wall notice may be explained through the course of a conversation and then followed up in writing. Example letter 1: party structure notice (along with related sample documentation) is available from Gov.uk.
Works that require such communication include:
- Building on or at the boundary of the two properties.
- Working on an existing party wall or party structure.
- Digging below and near to the foundation level of their property.
More specific examples of this type of work include:
- Building a new wall.
- Cutting into a party wall.
- Making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper.
- Removing chimneys from a party wall.
- Knocking down and rebuilding a party wall.
If the changes are within the law, adjoining owners cannot stop them from taking place. However, they can affect how and when the works are carried out.
Once the notice has been served, the property owner has up to a year to begin the work.
For more information see: Party Wall Act.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings
- Adjoining owner.
- Counter Notice.
- Party structure notice.
- Party Wall Act.
- Three party wall notice responses.
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