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  • Clio Domenech

Party Fence Walls: Rules, Maintenance and Alterations

A party fence wall is a masonry wall that does not form party of a building , sitting on the land of owned by two separate parties. Masonry means made of bricks, blocks or concrete. Thus, timber fences cannot be party fence walls. It is common to find the boundary line going through the middle of a party fence wall so half is owned by one party and the other half by the other party. The shared ownership can come in less equal splits where one party owns more than the other. As long as a portion of the wall sits no the land owned by an independent party, it is a shared wall. A boundary wall or a garden wall is a masonry wall sitting solely on the land of one party. The wall can touch the boundary line* but must not cross it.

Establishing the boundary line becomes crucial in determining whether a wall is a party fence wall or merely aa garden wall. Boundary lines are written in the Deed of the house or on Conveyance Plans. Simple measurements can then be taken to determine whether the boundary line is going through, touching or is away from the wall.

So what are the rules for doing works to a party fence wall. Who is responsible for the maintenance and what is the procedure when one party wishes to do works on the wall? We will cover this in the next section.

A party fence wall between two Victorian terrace properties.

Maintenance of a Party Fence Wall

It is the responsibility of both owners to maintain a party fence wall. Repair costs should be split equally as the wall is under shared ownership.

Alterations to a Party Fence Wall

Section 2(2) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 lists all notifiable works to a party structure. A party fence wall comes under the umbrella term, party structure, which is used a lot in this section. There is a specific clause for party fence walls; Section 2(2)(l).

to raise a party fence wall, or to raise such a wall for use as a party wall, and to demolish a party fence wall and rebuild it as a party fence wall or as a party wall;

As such, any alterations involving a party fence wall must be agreed to by the neighbour. A party structure notice must be served on the Adjoining Owner to officially notify them to which they must respond in writing. More information on all the ways an Adjoining Owners can reply to a Party Wall Notice is detailed here.

Demolishing a Party Fence Wall

To completely remove a party fence wall without the intention of reconstruction, the consent of the neighbouring property owner is imperative. This necessitates serving a party wall notice on the Adjoining Owner to elicit their formal written response. If the intention is to reconstruct the party fence wall in the same location as part of an extension (turning the party fence wall into a party wall), separate notices for demolition and rebuilding are required. The likelihood of obtaining permission from the Adjoining Owner for such work increases if an agreement is reached allowing them to utilise the party wall for their own potential extension in the future. However, if consent for the reconstruction of the party fence wall is not granted, the Building Owner is obligated to construct their extension's side wall exclusively on their own property.

*Other names for a boundary line is a "line of junction".

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