Party walls

A party wall divides the buildings of two owners. This 'boundary' is usually, but not always, positioned at the centre of the wall.

The UK Party Wall Act 1996 recognises two forms of party wall:

  1. a wall that stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owner.
  2. a wall that stands wholly on one owner’s land, but is used by two (or more) owners to separate their buildings.

RICS and party walls

The RICS Boundaries and Party Walls Working Group produces professional guidance relating to party walls. The latest Party Wall Guidance Note provides advice to surveyors who accept instructions in circumstances where the Party Wall Act may be relevant. The sixth edition takes into account legislation, case law, and current HM Government guides.

The Party Wall Act 1996

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 applies to England and Wales and came into force on 1 July 1997. It provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

The Act is designed to make sure property owners notify their neighbours in advance of certain proposed works, including cutting into a wall to take the bearing of a beam, such as in a loft extension, and inserting a damp proof course. The Act does not apply to more minor everyday jobs that do not affect the integrity of the party wall, such as fixing plug sockets or fitting wall units or shelving.

Party walls and sound problems in buildings

BRE provides advice about possible soundproofing solutions, and The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide general advice about disputes involving party walls and boundaries.