Change of Owner | Party Wall Award

HomeChange of Owner | Party Wall Award

In the realm of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 (‘the Act’). A notable challenge arises when a change in ownership of a neighbouring property occurs after the issuance of a party wall award but before the completion of building works. This prompts the question: must the individual overseeing the works initiate the process anew with the new neighbour?

The Act designates the individual executing the work as the ‘building owner,’ and the neighbour affected by the works is termed the ‘adjoining owner’. However, the Act does not expressly address changes in ownership. Leaving a void in legal clarity regarding the consequences of such transitions.

Party Wall Award
Party Wall Award

The 7th edition of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors guidance notes on the Act provides valuable insight: “If the adjoining owner changes, the appointment of the adjoining owner’s surveyor continues and the rights and duties of the adjoining owner pass to the successor in title. This avoids unnecessary delay, cost, and inconvenience to the building owner due to a change of adjoining owner. It also prevents an adjoining owner from obstructing a building owner’s intention to proceed with work. For example, by transferring ownership of the adjoining property to a subsidiary company.”

The Faculty, recognizing the nuances of this scenario, proposes pragmatic considerations:

Ongoing Works by Building Owner: If the Building Owner has already commenced the work. It is reasonable to assume that the new Adjoining Owner would likely be aware of it during the conveyance stage. In such a scenario, dissent may be less likely. However, as a precautionary measure, it is advisable to assign the existing award to the new owner. This step ensures that, in the event of damage, the new Adjoining Owner is formally recognized in the award, mitigating potential complications.

Award in Place, Work Yet to Begin: In cases where the work has not yet started but a party wall award is in place. The award could be assigned to the new Adjoining Owner, as previously suggested. However, the new Adjoining Owner retains the option to reject this and request a new notice in their name. This flexibility allows them to provide consent or appoint their surveyor to make an award, potentially serving a counter notice.

It is imperative that a party wall award meticulously delineates the rights (benefits) and liabilities (burdens) involved. This information should be effectively communicated to the new adjoining owner. Ensuring transparency and a shared understanding of the intricacies involved.

In conclusion, navigating changes in adjoining property ownership during ongoing construction projects requires a judicious blend of adherence to existing awards and the flexibility to accommodate new owners’ preferences and concerns. This balanced approach minimizes delays, costs, and potential conflicts, fostering a smoother progression of building works.