In this blog, Icon Surveyors will discuss what, if any, responsibilities a building owner has if an adjoining owner sells the adjoining property before and/or after a Party Wall Notice has been served.
In order to determine what a building owner may be obliged to do if an adjoining owner moves before or after a Party Wall Notice has been served, Icon Surveyors will first look at how the Act defines an ‘Adjoining Owner’.
Under section 20 of The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, an
“Adjoining Owner” and “Adjoining Occupier” respectively mean ‘Any Owner’ and ‘Any Occupier’ of land, buildings, storeys or rooms adjoining those of a building owner and for the purposes only of section 6 within the distance specified in that section;
“Building Owner” means an owner of land who wishes to exercise their rights under the Act. In other words, the owner who intends to carry out any of the works as described in the Act.
- A person in receipt of, or entitled to receive, the whole or part of the rents or profits of land;
- A person in possession of land, otherwise than a mortgagee or as a tenant from year to year or for a lesser term or as a tenant at will;
- A purchaser of an interest in land under a contract for purchase or under an agreement for a lease, otherwise than under an agreement for a tenancy from year to year or for a lesser term.
As can be noted from section 20 of the Act an ‘Adjoining Owner’ is ‘any owner’ of land, buildings, storeys or rooms adjoining those of the ‘building owner’. As the posed question is only concerned with what a building owner may be required to do if an adjoining neighbour moves, Icon Surveyors will focus on paragraph (c) of the Act’s interpretation of “Owner”.
Paragraph (c) stipulates that a purchaser of an interest in land that is purchased under a contract is an ‘owner’ for the purposes of the Act. This includes both adjoining and building owners.
The Act also states that a building owner has a legal obligation to serve a Party Wall Notice upon ‘any’ ‘adjoining owner’ for any works being carried out under the Act. If a Party Wall Notice has been served and consented to and/or a Party Wall Agreement has been drawn up and agreed, then it would appear that a notified purchaser of interest under a contract that buys the property from the adjoining owner whilst the works are ongoing might be sensible to agree to apportion any compensation awarded by the surveyor in his original Award.
Should a buyer of an adjoining property become aware of any damage or loss to their property that can be shown to have been caused as a result of the works carried out by a building owner in breach of their statutory duties, the new adjoining owner may seek a common law remedy to recover the costs of any damage and/or losses.
As this is a very complex area of law, Icon Surveyors are happy to give, both building owners or adjoining owners, who may be faced with matters that have been raised in this blog, free 30-minute consultation in order to determine the best way forward.