The Party Wall Act simplified


If you’re working on a wall that divides your property from your neighbour’s property, or building a new wall on or near the boundary you may need to give your neighbours a party wall notice. It can be quite complicated to make sure that you’re giving the right documents to the right people at the right time but you can use our site to:

  1. work out which notices you should be serving and to whom you should be serving them
  2. create the party wall notices you need, including the forms for your neighbours to sign to give you permission to go ahead
  3. get guidance about how to serve notices 
  4. get guidance on how to deal with any counter-notices or disputes that arise.

In these notes, the person wishing to do the work is known as the building owner. People who own other property affected are adjoining owners. This note is aimed at building owners wanting to do work on a party wall or build a new wall and needing guidance on what to do.


What notices do you need?


There are four types of party wall notice. These are notices about:

  1. work on an existing party wall or party structure (Party Structural Notice). 
  2. a new wall astride the boundary line ( Line of junction Notice). 
  3. a new wall next to the boundary line ( Line of junction Notice).
  4. excavations near a neighbour's building (within 3 or some circumstances 6 metres of neighbouring buildings) - this includes excavation works to build foundations for a new wall. ( Excavation works Notice three or six metres).

Sometimes you will need more than one notice for the same project. For example you might need to give one neighbour a notice about a new wall astride a boundary and be close enough to another building owned by someone else to give them a notice about the construction of foundations within 6 metres of their property.  It’s also possible that one project will cover several categories - for example you might need to give the same neighbouring owner notice about work to an existing party wall and a new wall that will be part of the same project. 


Who should get a notice? 


Depending on the nature of your project you might need to serve several notices to different people and it’s possible that you won’t have a shared boundary with them all. 

As a starting point, you need to give a notice to any owner of the property on the other side of the boundary/party wall. It is possible for a property to have more than one owner and if this is the case you need to serve more than one party wall notice. You should give notices to anyone who:

  1. holds the freehold title;
  2. holds a leasehold title for a period exceeding one year;
  3. is entitled under contract to purchase such a freehold or leasehold title;
  4. is entitled to receive rents from the property.

A common situation in which you’ll need to give two notices would be if the occupier of the property next door to you has a long lease. In that case you would need to serve a party wall notice to the occupier of the property and to the owner of the property as well. 

If you are doing any excavation work, such as digging foundations, you may be required to give notice to any building owners within six metres of your excavations.


How do you serve a party wall notice? 


It’s generally best to talk to your neighbours about your plans before formally presenting them with a party wall notice. This can help avoid confusion over what your plans are and gives you a chance to address any issues early and quickly. You probably wouldn’t like someone marching up to your door and stuffing a legal document into your hands unexpectedly - your neighbours probably won’t like it either.  


There are no formal requirements about how you should serve notice beyond the requirement that it be in writing, and includes various pieces of information such as the description of the proposed works. For notices about excavations you also need to include plans of your work. You can read about the requirements in more detail on our page about excavation notices or use our documents (see links on right hand side of the page) and you’ll be prompted for all of the information. You don’t need to use recorded delivery or do anything beyond deliver the notice to your neighbours. 

Your notice should name all of the owners of your property - for example if a married couple are joint tenants of a property both partners should be named on the notice. In other words, if you jointly own the property, and you want to give notice to your neighbour that you are proposing to do some work, the notice needs to come from both of you and both your names need to appear on the notice.


If your neighbouring property is empty then you should fix your notice (addressed to “the owner”) to a conspicuous part of the property. 

When you’re ready to serve party wall notices on your neighbours you can get started by using our drafting tool to produce the notices, along with a reply ready for the neighbour to sign and return to you if they agree. Just follow the links on the right hand side of this page under “Draft Yourself”. 


When do you need to serve notice?


For work on existing party walls you should give notice at least two months before you would like to start work. For the construction of a new wall on the boundary line and for excavations (such as digging foundations) near the boundary line you should give notice at least one month before you would like to start work

Your notice is valid for one year from the day that you deliver it to your neighbour. If you’ve not started the work within a year you’ll need to serve a new notice and start the process again. 

You should aim to give notice to your neighbours about your planned work well before you plan to start work so that you’re not held up waiting for a response or dealing with any disputes that arise. With your neighbours’ permission you can start earlier but your neighbours are not obliged to give you permission more quickly than the notice periods. 


What should a party wall notice include? 


You can use this site to create party wall notices which include all of the information that is required. It is important to note, though, that for notices about excavation works, special foundations or projecting foundations (foundations that cross over the building owner’s land boundary line into a neighbour’s land) you need to include plans of these works. We recommend that you talk to your builder or architect about these plans. 

Regardless of what type of notice you’re serving you need to identify yourself and any other owners of your property on your notice.

For work on existing walls your notice needs to include:

  1. the name and address of the building owner (or if you are a joint tenant, building owners).
  2. a full description of the proposed works, including (in certain cases) plans. It is a good idea to provide plans anyway, even if the requirement to do so does not apply, because it may make it easier for the neighbours to understand and respond to the notice promptly.
  3. the date on which the proposed works will begin.

For the creation of new walls or party fence walls astride the boundary your notice needs to include:

  1. a statement that wish to build a new wall or party fence wall and 
  2. a full description of the proposed works. 

For excavation works such as digging foundations near your neighbour’s property the notice must include: 

  1. details of the proposed works.
  2. confirmation as to whether or not the building owner intends to strengthen or preserve any neighbours’ foundations.
  3. plans and sections showing the proposed works.


You can use our drafting tool to create the relevant notices, including a ready-made positive response document that you can provide for the adjoining owner(s) to sign and return.


What to do after serving a notice


If your neighbours give you written permission to do so you can start work right away. 

If when you’ve spoken to them they’ve seemed happy with your plans it can be worth chasing your neighbours to sign the paperwork if you’ve not heard anything from them after a week or so, this will avoid you formally being “in dispute”. 


If you’re carrying out work on an existing wall and you don’t get a response within 14 days then you are deemed to be in dispute with your neighbour. Then it is a good idea to talk to your neighbours and explain that you are technically now “in dispute” and can appoint a surveyor to work for both of you, or a surveyor each. 


What happens if I receive a counter-notice? 


If there is something in your plans your neighbours object to, or if there are some works to a party wall which they wish you to undertake whilst doing your own works then your neighbours can serve you a counter-notice. 

If you get a counter-notice requesting changes to your plans and are happy with these proposed changes then you can agree to the counter-notice and start work. If you do not agree with the proposed changes you will need to appoint a surveyor. 


What happens if I don’t receive a response at all? 


If you’re carrying out work on an existing wall or wanting to build on a boundary and haven’t received a response then you are deemed to be “in dispute”. You and your neighbour should appoint a surveyor.


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