Party wall agreement neighbour selling house

There is often much confusion over the subject of a Party Wall Agreement where a neighbour is selling a house, or where you are purchasing a property where a Party Wall Award is in place. The fact is that the law is unclear in these areas. Let’s take a look at the potential scenarios.

What is a Party Wall Agreement?

Any owner of a property who is undertaking building work that affects a shared wall, boundary or outbuilding must obtain a Party Wall Agreement.

Whether it’s a loft conversion, foundations being dug for a new extension, or a damp proof course is being installed, a Party Wall Agreement will be required. Essential repairs or rebuilds, and any work that involves, for example, cutting back footings to the foundations of a party wall, cutting into a wall or removing a chimney breast, will also need a Party Wall Agreement.

Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, it is the responsibility of any building owner carrying out a construction project to provide all adjoining neighbours with a Party Wall Notice which sets out the plan of works.

If the neighbours agree to the plan of works, both owner and neighbours will sign a Party Wall Agreement. If, however, any of the neighbours fail to respond to the Party Wall Notice, or they disagree with the plan, then both parties will need to appoint a surveyor to draw up a Party Wall Award.

The Party Wall Award outlines the right to commence the work, and details how and when it will be carried out, as well as any other related issues.

Whilst the Party Wall Act is clear on the rights reserved by the building owner and the adjoining owner, it becomes less so when one of the parties is selling up. This is because a Party Wall Award is personal to the original parties who entered into it.

As can be imagined, where one adjoining owner may consent to the works, this does not necessarily mean another would follow suit, as they may have their own personal reasons for not doing so.

For this reason, there is no provision within the Party Wall Act for assigning and transferring the benefit of any rights derived by serving a Party Wall Notice or entering into a Party Wall Agreement or a Party Wall Award.

What if I’m buying a home where a Party Wall Agreement is in place?

Again, the Party Wall Act is not clear on whether an agreement will automatically transfer to the new owner of the property.

If you are considering buying a new property, you will need to know whether there are any shared walls, fences or boundaries, and whether the seller has recently carried out any construction works that fell under the Party Wall Act, in which case there will be Party Wall Agreement or Party Wall Award in place.

Similarly, you should also be aware of whether an adjoining owner of the property you are looking to purchase has recently undertaken or is planning works that fall under the Act.

The property information forms completed by the seller as part of the conveyancing process may include questions on the Act, including whether there has been a party wall dispute. If any such issues are indicated, your conveyancer should identify these facts and provide you with the appropriate advice in order to clarify the situation, or refer you to the relevant professional who can do so.

How long does a Party Wall Agreement last?

If you are buying a property where there a Party Wall Agreement or Party Wall Award has been entered into, either where the property you are buying is that of the building owner or their adjoining owner, you will probably be wondering, how long does a party wall agreement last?

This is a natural concern, as you may be worried about the prospect of issues arising down the line as a result of the works.

As the new owner of the building, you may be concerned that a claim for compensation may be made against you by an adjoining neighbour. Alternatively, as the adjoining owner, you may find yourself having to make a claim against your neighbouring building owner. You will therefore want to know potentially how long you are protected for under a Party Wall Award.

However, as previously mentioned, because a Party Wall Award is personal to the parties who originally entered into it, if a party wall surveyor makes an order that compensation is payable, they can only order that it is paid by the building owner named in the Award.

The outgoing owner should, therefore, be advised to arrange appropriate indemnity insurance to cover them for such an event.

Equally, as a new adjoining owner who could potentially receive compensation, there will need to be an agreement as to how this compensation is shared between yourself and the original adjoining owner from whom you purchased the property.

Free Consultation

Party wall issues arising during the buying or selling of a property are notoriously complex, mostly because the Party Wall Act does not directly address the transfer of property.

If you are confused over your responsibilities under the Act; you are concerned about a Party Wall Agreement as a neighbour is moving, or you need reassurance when buying a property where a Party Wall Agreement or Party Wall Award is in place, you are welcome to contact Icon Surveyors for a free, impartial consultation.

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We are a team of party wall surveying experts based throughout London and the surrounding areas. Here, we share informative property survey blogs created by industry experts.



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