Party Wall Agreement

(Last Updated: 30/10/2023)
5 min read
A wall will count as a party wall if it reaches either side of the boundary between two buildings. This can happen in various instances, whether it's a shared or fence wall. You can read more about these matters here: What is a party wall?

As it reaches the boundary of your neighbour, you must inform them in writing of any complex building works you wish to carry out. This is called a party wall agreement process.

Party walls explained as part of the party wall agreement process

What is a party wall agreement?

Party wall agreements are needed whenever you plan to do works which affect a wall you share in common with a neighbour or neighbours. If you or your neighbour started work without party wall agreement, the other party could take it to court. It can be ruled not only that the project is halted but also that compensation is paid to the claimant.

This would be the case, for example, if you started work on removing a chimney breast located in a party wall without having received the correct legal permission from any relevant neighbours.

To find out what happens when your neighbour doesn't agree with your plans or decides to seek compensation from you for loss or damage, read Party Wall Disputes. The rules which govern party walls are set out in the Party Wall Act 1996 as amended.

Party Wall Agreement Process

How do you get a party wall agreement?

To start the process towards getting a party wall agreement, you first require a party wall surveyor to prepare a Party Wall Notice compliant with the Act, which you then serve on your neighbour or the surveyor can serve it directly on your neighbour as you see fit. We can refer you to an experienced RICS surveyor to help with this.

What happens after you’ve served your Party Wall Notice?

Your neighbour then has 3 choices:

  1. Consent to the works in writing,
  2. Dissent to your notice, which will start a party wall dispute; or
  3. Send you a counter party wall notice, stating additional works which they request to be done

Once you serve your party wall notice, the adjoining owners must give you a response before you start the work. The timeframe is 14 days if they give consent and a month if they want to serve a counter-notice. For this reason, you must formally inform your neighbours of the works anywhere between 2 months and a year before you start the work. This will give you enough time to get consent or respond to any counter notices.

Can a Neighbour say no to a party wall agreement?

Neighbour dissents and agrees that your party wall surveyor is to be your appointed surveyor or the agreed party wall surveyor.

Your surveyor will then carry out the following actions:

  1. Carry out a fully photographed and dictated survey of the Party Wall of your neighbour’s property relevant to the vicinity of the planned works.
  2. Act as the agreed party wall surveyor if your neighbour is in agreement with this or liaise with the party wall surveyor appointed by your neighbour if applicable.
  3. Negotiate, agree, prepare and publish a Party Wall Award detailing how and when the works are to be undertaken.

Neighbour dissents, and their own party wall surveyor is to act as the agreed party wall surveyor for both sides.

You can agree to the neighbour using their appointed surveyor as the agreed party wall surveyor, and this saves you fees unless you specifically wish to retain your surveyor.

What if matters become more complicated?

Rarely, matters can become more involved because, for example:

  1. Negotiations with your neighbour’s appointed party wall surveyor (if applicable) become entrenched; or
  2. Your proposal turns out to be more technologically challenging than first envisaged; or
  3. If damage is caused to the neighbouring property due to the fulfilment of the works; or
  4. Other unforeseen problems are encountered

For more information about what your neighbour can do in these kind of situations, read Party Wall Disputes

Party wall agreement without surveyor?

You can serve a party wall notice without a surveyor, but if you make any mistakes along the part wall agreement process, your notice will become invalid, and so will any responses from the adjoining owners. A party wall surveyor can ensure all the necessary steps are strictly followed so that you can start your works in a timely manner.

Frequently Asked Questions
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
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Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
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Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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