RICS Consumer Guide: Party Walls

RICS Consumer Guide: Party Walls

Party walls usually separate buildings belonging to different owners, but could include garden walls built astride a boundary — known as party fence walls.

Where a wall separates two different size buildings, often only the part that is used by both properties is a party wall, the rest belongs to the person or persons on whose land it stands.

This guide tells you about party walls. It’s been written by RICS and offers help and advice to homeowners and landlords who are unsure of their rights and responsibilities.

Applying to all properties in England and Wales, the new guide to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 brings clarity for non-expert consumers to an often-complex process. Written by party wall experts, the guide describes what the act is, how it applies to property owners, what is needed from property owners, how to choose surveyors, how the award works and who pays.

The guide aims to simplify the Act which requires property owners in England and Wales to follow a specific procedure when undertaking building work which involves a party wall or fence wall. The Act requires that, where the adjoining owner does not agree to the works, a surveyor will determine the time and manner in which the works can be carried out.

"The intention of this new consumer guide is to simply set out the procedures to help owners to decide when and how surveyors are to be appointed to administer the PW legislation, what rights they have as an owner wishing to develop, extend or refurbish, or as an adjoining owner or occupier when works are to take place next door. The guide informs the basic requirements placed on the owners before surveyors take part and should help to maintain good ‘neighbourliness’ during the development process." - Michael Cooper FRICS