PWA 1996: a quick guide to what it is and what works it covers

A brief guide to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (PWA 1996), explaining what it does and what works it covers.

This is one of a series of quick guides, see Quick guides.

What is the PWA 1996?

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (PWA 1996) provides a statutory framework (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739) to enable neighbours who share a boundary to carry out building works that involve (for example):

 

Who does the PWA 1996 affect?

The PWA 1996 affects neighbours who share a boundary. The PWA 1996 describes these as the building owner and the adjoining owner, where:

There can be more than one building owner and more than one adjoining owner.

 

Why do we need the PWA 1996?

The PWA 1996:

 

What are party walls, party fence walls and party structures?

Examples of a party wall (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739) include:

  • A wall that stands on the boundary between the building owner and the adjoining owner's land. The wall may be part of one building (such as a house wall that is also the boundary wall) or part of two separate buildings (such as the shared wall in a semi-detached house or a terraced row of houses).

  • A wall on the building owner's land, where the adjoining owner has a building that is enclosed by that same wall (for example, the adjoining owner's garage).

A party fence wall (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739) is a wall that stands on the boundary, but has no buildings attached to it. The classic example is a garden wall. However, wooden fences are not party fence walls.

The term party structures (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739) applies to all party walls and party fence walls. It also includes horizontal party structures (such as floors or ceilings) between, for example, two adjoining flats.

 

What are the building owner's rights and obligations?

A building owner's rights (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739) and obligations (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739) include:

  • Complying with the PWA 1996, such as giving the appropriate notice to the adjoining owner(s).

  • Carrying out the works to which the notice relates and starting those works within 12 months of the notice.

  • Going on to the adjoining owner's land to carry out its works, provided at least 14 days notice is given.

  • Exercising reasonable care when carrying out works and avoiding unnecessary inconvenience to an adjoining owner during the works.

  • Compensating an adjoining owner for damage to property caused by the works, including paying all expenses relating to the works.

If a building owner fails to comply with the PWA 1996, it will be deprived of the Act's protection (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739). Any damage or loss sustained by an adjoining owner is actionable in private nuisance and trespass. The building owner may also be in breach of its statutory duty.

 

What are the adjoining owner's rights and obligations?

An adjoining owner's rights (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739) and obligations (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739) include:

 

Notice requirements under the PWA 1996

A building owner must give notice (www.practicallaw.com/8-383-5739) to all adjoining owners of any planned works. The notice requirements will depend on the type of works that are to be undertaken:

 
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