A party wall agreement is a legal document that regulates the rights and responsibilities of property owners when construction work involves a party wall, a boundary wall, or excavation close to neighboring buildings. The purpose of such an agreement is to prevent and resolve disputes between neighbors arising from construction activities that could affect shared structures.
Here are key aspects related to party wall agreements and their legalities:
Understanding the Party Wall Act:
- In the United Kingdom, the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes about party walls, boundary walls, and excavation near neighboring buildings. This legislation is specific to England and Wales.
- Before starting any work covered by the Act, the property owner must serve notice to affected neighbors. This notice typically includes details about the proposed work, the start date, and the names and addresses of the property owners involved.
Consent from Adjoining Owners:
- Neighbors can either consent to the proposed work or dissent. If they dissent, a party wall surveyor may be appointed to create a party wall agreement. Even if neighbors consent, it’s advisable to document this agreement in writing to avoid future disputes.
Appointment of Party Wall Surveyors:
- In cases where there is a dispute or when the proposed work is more complex, each party involved may appoint a party wall surveyor. The surveyors will then agree on a third surveyor to resolve any disagreements.
Party Wall Awards:
- The outcome of the party wall process is often documented in a party wall award. This legal document includes details of the work to be carried out, the timeframes involved, and any other relevant conditions. The award is a legally binding agreement between the property owners.
Costs and Fees:
- The party wall surveyors’ fees are typically the responsibility of the party undertaking the work. However, the Act allows for agreements on cost-sharing or for the party carrying out the work to cover all reasonable costs.
- The party wall surveyors play a key role in resolving disputes. They are responsible for making decisions on matters such as the method of work, working hours, and any compensation owed to the affected neighbours.
Appealing a Party Wall Award:
- If either party is dissatisfied with the party wall award, they can appeal to the county court within 14 days of receiving the award. The court has the authority to uphold, modify, or revoke the award.
It’s important for property owners to be aware of the legal requirements outlined in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and to communicate effectively with neighbours to avoid disputes. Seeking professional advice, including the appointment of party wall surveyors, can help ensure that the process is conducted in accordance with the law and that the rights of all parties involved are protected.