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Is Your Neighbour Selling House With Party Wall Agreement?

Property Saviour » Problematic Properties » Is Your Neighbour Selling House With Party Wall Agreement?

There is often confusion surrounding Party Wall Agreements when a neighbour is selling a house or when you are purchasing a property with an existing Party Wall Award.

These areas of the law are unclear, so let us review the potential scenarios.

In this article, we will discuss the responsibilities that a building owner has when an adjoining owner sells the adjacent property before or after a Party Wall Notice has been served.

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What Is a Party Wall Agreement?

Any property owner undertaking construction work affecting a shared wall, boundary, or outbuilding must obtain a Party Wall Agreement.

This includes activities like loft conversions, foundation digging for extensions, installing damp-proof courses, essential repairs or rebuilds, and any work that involves cutting back footings, cutting into walls, or removing chimney breasts.  If your neighbour is getting extension work done on the cheap, it is likely they won’t be instruct a party wall surveyor.

According to the Party Wall Act 1996, the building owner is responsible for providing all adjoining neighbours with a Party Wall Notice that outlines the work plan.

If the neighbours agree to the plan, a Party Wall Agreement is signed.

If neighbours fail to respond or disagree, then both parties must appoint a surveyor to create a Party Wall Award. This document outlines the right to commence the work, how and when it will be carried out, and any other relevant issues.

While the Party Wall Act clarifies the rights of the building owner and the adjoining owner, it becomes less clear when one party sells their property. A Party Wall Award is specific to the original parties involved.

Therefore, even if one adjoining owner consents to the works, it does not mean another will follow suit due to personal reasons.

The Party Wall Act does not provide a provision for assigning or transferring the benefits of serving a Party Wall Notice, entering into a Party Wall Agreement, or receiving a Party Wall Award.

In this article, we 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.
The Party Wall Act does not clearly state whether an agreement automatically transfers to the new property owner.

Can I build an extension without a party wall agreement?

No. You’ll need a party wall agreement because an extension is a big project and will be disruptive to adjoining properties.

Do you need a surveyor for a party wall agreement?

Before starting any building works on a shared wall, the homeowner must seek agreement in writing from all adjoining owners.  If an agreement can’t be reached then a party wall surveyor must be hired to move forward.

How do I approach my Neighbour about party wall agreement?

It is best to consult your neighbours as soon as possible to get their buy-in.  As soon as you have your first drawing, sit down with your neighbours to explain your proposed works and how it might affect them.  Put their minds at ease by showing you/your builder will keep disruptions to a minimum.

How do I approach my Neighbour about party wall agreement
Selling your home without a party wall agreement is possible, but it will lead to delays in the sale.

Do you need party wall agreement to sell?

Selling your home without a party wall agreement is possible, but it will lead to delays in the sale. If there’s no agreement and building work has been done on the party wall, potential buyers might be reluctant to buy the property.

Whether you are buying or selling a property with an existing Party Wall Agreement, the Party Wall Act does not clearly state whether an agreement automatically transfers to the new property owner.

If you are considering purchasing a property, you need to check if there are any shared walls, fences, or boundaries and if the seller has recently carried out construction work covered by the Party Wall Act.

A Party Wall Agreement or Party Wall Award may be in place in such cases.  You should find out if any adjoining owner of the property has recently completed or plans to undertake works covered by the Act.

The property information forms completed during the conveyancing process may include questions about the Act and any party wall disputes. Your conveyancer should advise or refer you to a party wall surveyor.

A party wall agreement is a must-have document needed to sell a house.

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Can my Neighbour object to party wall agreement?

Yes, your neighbour has 14 days to object to your proposed party wall agreement from the date of the party wall notice.  Your neighbour can refuse to sign party wall award.

How long is a Party Wall Notice valid for?

If the work to which a Party Wall Notice relates hasn’t started within twelve months of the notice being served, the notice will no longer be valid. It is necessary to serve the notice at least two months before the work is due to begin.

How Long Does a Party Wall Award Last?

A party wall award lasts for 12 months once the work has finished.  If any more work is planned then the process must start again.

How long does a Party Wall Award last
It is necessary to serve the notice at least two months before the work is due to begin.

How long does Neighbour have to respond to party wall notice?

If a Party Wall Notice has been sent and there’s no response from the neighbouring party/parties within 14 days, the Act has provisions to prevent undue delays in the project works’ progress.

Does a Party Wall Award Transfer To New Owner?

Yes, a Party Wall Award transfers to a new owner. 

To understand the obligations of a building owner when an adjoining owner moves before or after a Party Wall Notice, we need to look at how the Act defines an ‘Adjoining Owner’.

According to section 20 of The Party Wall Act 1996, an ‘Adjoining Owner’ means ‘Any Owner’ of land, buildings, storeys, or rooms adjacent to those owned by the building owner. A ‘Building Owner’ is defined as the owner of land who intends to exercise their rights under the Act. The Act also includes the term ‘Owner’, which covers anyone in receipt of rents or profits, in possession of land, or a purchaser of an interest in land under a contract or agreement for a lease.

It is important for a seller to disclose any party wall agreement to their new buyer in the legal pack.

The Act specifies that a building owner must serve a Party Wall Notice to ‘any’ adjoining owner for any works covered by the Act. If a Party Wall Notice has been served and consented to, or a Party Wall Agreement has been agreed upon, a notified purchaser buying the property from the adjoining owner during ongoing works would be wise to agree on apportioning any compensation awarded by the surveyor in the original Award.

Not having a party wall agreement can result in enforcement action against you, which can result in a fine or jail, depending on the severity of the charges.  Would selling the property as is, be a better option?

Who is liable for party wall damage?

According to the Party Wall Act, any damage caused to an adjoining owner’s property must be remedied by the building owner.

With a mortgage offer only lasting 3 to 6 months, and conveyancing taking up to 4 months, it is unlikely that your buyers will wait for you to get a party wall agreement.

This will sadly result in an abortive sale.

Can I sell my house without a party wall agreement?

Yes, you can sell your house without a party wall agreement. However, this will cause substantial delays, and your buyer might get cold feet.

Here at Property Saviour, we’ll buy any house in any condition, anywhere in England, Scotland or Wales.  We provide sellers with certainty and re-assurance in stressful situations:

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