A Party Wall Award is a legally binding document that specifies details and procedures for managing disputes and works that affect a shared boundary between two or more adjoining properties. The party wall award is also sometimes known as a 'party wall agreement' and is made between owners of adjoining properties. It sets out the rights of each owner, what work has been proposed (if applicable), and resolves any disputes between them.
The party wall award is an agreement between neighboring property owners that are designed to protect both parties should work be proposed that impacts a shared boundary. It is usually drawn up by a professional surveyor with the authority to act on behalf of both parties.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (the “Act”) sets out the procedures for resolving a Party Wall dispute. According to the Act, the main purpose of a Party Wall Award is to ensure that no one party gets an unfair advantage from the dispute. Such unfair advantages may include damage to property and/or the disruption of another person’s use and enjoyment of their property.
It is important to check with the local planning authority to find out if a Party wall Award is needed for any specific works such as building an extension. It is in the interest of both parties that the process for drawing up a Party Wall Award is begun as soon as possible.
The initial step of the process for drawing up a Party Wall Award will involve the building owner proposing works on the boundary line to notify the Adjoining Owner of such works. This notification must be given to them in writing.
The Receiving Party or Adjoining Owner will then have two basic options.
1. They can either consent to the works, in writing, without the necessity of the Party Wall Award.
2. They can require the Building Owner to produce a Party Wall Award, which will specify the details and procedures for the completion of the works in accordance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
If the Receiving Party does not respond to the notice within 14 days then they are deemed to be in agreement with the works and no Party Wall Award will be necessary.
It is also important for the Building Owner to note that there is a financial liability on them o ensure that neighboring properties are 'made good' following the completion of the proposed works. This is often referred to as the 'Making Good' Clause and essentially protects the Adjoining Owner from any further damage occurring due to the construction works.
In summary, a Party Wall Award is a legally binding document between two or more property owners for the purpose of protecting both parties in the event of works affecting a shared boundary. A Party Wall Award must be drawn up in certain cases where work is proposed and it is important to check with the local planning authority to find out if a Party Wall Award is necessary in specific cases. The Building Owner holds a financial liability to ensure neighboring properties are ‘made good’ following the completion of the proposed works and the Adjoining Owner has two options such as consenting to the proposed works or requiring the production of a Party Wall Award.