AK Assistance Ltd ( Party Wall Surveyors )
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The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 talks about 'party fence walls'. Slightly misleading but fences, whether held up with concrete posts or not, do not come under the Act. A 'party fence wall ' is defined by the Act as a simple wall that does not form part of a building, sitting on the land of different owners.
These types of walls do come under the Act and if you need to do any work to them, repair, rebuild, increase or decrease the height, you will have to serve notice on your neighbour and follow the procedure under the Act. These walls are owned by both owners equally and therefore permission has to be sought before you can touch them. Therefore if repairs are necessary to the wall, it is the responsibility of both owners to pay for those repairs. If one owner wants to increase the height for his or her own reasons, then the cost would be down to that owner solely.
Boundary walls on the other hand are generally walls built completely on the land of one owner that separate the different lands.
The outer face of the boundary wall that faces the adjoining owner usually marks the boundary line. In these circumstances you are at liberty to do what you want as this is your wall and your neighbour has no right to touch it, not even to knock a nail in.
Slightly confusing, the Act refers to a '...boundary wall, being a party fence wall...’ Technically, under the Act then, a party fence wall can also be a boundary wall by the fact it sits on the boundary.
However, for clarity, it is best to think of a boundary wall being built on one person's land and a party fence wall being built astride the boundary on both owners lands.
How do you know if you have a party fence wall or boundary wall? If you live in a semi-detached house and the centre of the wall is also the centre of the two adjoining properties it is most likely to be a party fence wall. If you live in a detached house, then you would need to look at you and your neighbour’s deeds for help.
Failing that you would need to engage a boundary surveyor, a specialist trained Chartered Surveyor. It is not the job of the party wall surveyors to determine boundaries and they can only act on what the parties have already agreed the position of the boundary is.
Party/Party Boundary Wall