Party Wall agreements
What is a Party Wall Award?
A Party Wall Award or also known as a Party Wall Agreement is a legal binding document between the property owners carrying out the proposed building works (Building Owners) and the owners of the neighbouring properties (Adjoining Owners).
The Party Wall etc Act 1996 is the piece of legislation in England and Wales setting out a clear legal framework for managing disputes should they arise.
A Party Wall Agreement is required under the Act following a ‘dissent’ to a Party Wall Notice. Surveyors are appointed to resolve what is known as a ‘dispute’ under the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
The Surveyors will agree on the content of the Party Wall Award, setting out the ‘timing and manner’ of the proposed building works.
What is included within a Party Wall Award?
The Award usually includes following information (but not limited to):
- The proposed works, including drawings
- How and when the works will be carried out
- Measures for preventing damage
- Access provision for the surveyors to inspect the works
- The payment of surveyors’ fees, usually paid by the Building Owner
- And Most importantly, how damage will be dealt with
How does the Party Wall Award protect my property?
The Party Wall Award ensures that the Building Owner carrying out the proposed building works has a legally responsibly for any damage caused the the Adjoining Owners property should the damage caused be a direct result of the Party Wall works.
In the event damage occurs, the appointed surveyors will inspect the damage to identify the cause of the damage. If the damage occurs as a direct result of the works as identifying within the Party Wall Award, the surveyors will agree on the required works to ‘make good’ the damage or compensate the Adjoining Owner.
Ultimately, a Party Wall Award safeguards your property in the event damage occurs.
What happens if I do not agree with the content of the Party Wall Award?
Once a Party Wall Award has been served, either party has the right to appeal against the Award in a County Court within 14 days.
An appeal should not be undertaken lightly, an unsuccessful appellant may incur an award of costs against them. An owner considering appeal an Award should seek legal advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
If the building works known as ‘notifiable works’ under the Party Wall Act are undertaken without following the Act. you are breaking the law. Any works commenced are therefore being conducted unlawfully.
If works commence without the agreement by the Adjoining Owners you can obtain a Party Wall Injunction which will stop your neighbour from continuing with works that are currently being undertaking without an agreement or Award in place.
You should always seek Legal Advice before progressing injunctions.
When two surveyors are appointed under the Act, the Act stipulates that a third Surveyor must be appointed. I
n the event the two appointed surveyor can not agree on something either of the surveyors can be called upon to determine the dispute.
This is a last resort and should be carefully considered as there is likely costs associated with calling upon the third surveyor.
No, your neighbour cannot refuse to Party Wall Agreement. Your neighbour must initially acknowledge the Party Wall Notice by either consenting of dissenting to the property works.
If your neighbour does not provide consent or dissent to the Party Wall Notice, an automatic ‘dissenting’ will occur Notice. Whilst your neighbour cannot stop the works from being undertaken, a dissent to the Notice ‘triggers’ a dispute under the Act.
An Agreed Surveyor or Surveyors will need to be appointed in order to resolve this dispute. The Surveyors will agree on the wording of the Party Wall Agreement which sets out the timing and manner of the proposed building works.
Once the Party Wall Agreement has been served upon the building and adjoining owners works can commencement, subject to the expiry of the relevant Notice period.