What is a Party Wall Agreement?
A Party Wall Agreement is a crucial term when dealing with party walls, and it’s required that you get one when following the party wall process laid out by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
A Party Wall Agreement is less well defined and understood than some counterparts, such as the Party Wall Notice or Award. As a result, many people get confused when this term comes up. Here’s a deeper look at what a Party Wall Agreement is.
Party Wall Agreement Definition
A Party Wall Agreement is a document that confirms that you have permission from your neighbour that you’re allowed to complete work on a Party Wall. In addition, the agreement will include various details about the work, making it clear what you can and can’t do.
A Party Wall Agreement can come in many guises, and there’s no official way it needs to look. Instead, it just needs to include some of the core details about the property owners and the work you plan to do while also having a declaration that the work has been agreed to.
As a result of this loose definition, many people often use a Party Wall Notice as a Party Wall Agreement. A Party Wall Notice informs your neighbour that you plan on working on a party wall and includes all the same details in an agreement. This means that once a notice has been agreed to and signed, it can also be used as a Party Wall Agreement.
A Party Wall Agreement can be a document that you and your neighbour draft separately from a notice, which can help keep things organised and also allows you to make any changes that you feel are necessary. When agreeing, it’s best to include various details such as:
- Timeframe of the work
- Permitted working hours
- Parts of the properties the work is being done to
- Expected final outcome
- Benefits of the work
As well as this, it’s important that you include a declaration that the document is in accordance if the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, as not having this information can void it and make it unbinding.
What isn’t a Party Wall Agreement?
As a result of it needing to be better defined, many other things are often used interchangeably with a Party Wall Agreement, which can lead to even more confusion.
Many people, including Party Wall Surveyors, use the terms Party Wall Agreement and Party Wall Notice interchangeably. This is likely because a Party Wall Notice can be used as evidence of an agreement if it’s signed and accepted. In practice, a Party Wall Agreement is not a notice, as the latter is used to inform your neighbour that you plan to do work, whereas an agreement is a document that confirms that everyone is happy with the details.
Another thing that Party Wall Agreements are confused with are Party Wall Awards. Both of these documents include the details of what is allowed to happen to a party wall and having either permit you to start working, although the circumstances of how you get them are different.
You can get a Party Wal Agreement after your Party Wall Notice has been agreed to, also known as assenting. From here, you can create this document that details what you two have agreed on. A Party Wall Award results from your neighbour not conforming to the work.
When they do this, a dispute is started, which can only be resolved by an impartial party wall surveyor. They will assess the buildings and party wall and then use the guidance from the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 to issue a final award. This lays out the rules about what can and can’t happen.
How do you get a Party Wall Agreement?
To get a Party Wall Agreement, you must follow the party wall process defined in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. This process can be different for everyone depending on various factors and how people respond, but it’s always started by you sending a Party Wall Notice.
When creating a Party Wall Notice, you can draft and curate it yourself without additional input. However, getting a party wall surveyor to help you is recommended, as it’s easy to miss vital details, and there are also various types of notices you can send. Regardless of how you create the notice, you can’t send it yourself, and it needs to be delivered by a Chartered Surveyor.
Once the notice is received, the adjourning neighbour can agree to or reject your work. If they agree to your notice, you’ve reached an agreement and can create a Party Wall Agreement. As stated before, this can be a signed Party Wall Notice, or you can create your own separate document. It’s a good idea to make a copy for all parties involved to reference once work commences.
You only get a Party Wall Agreement if your neighbour assents to your notice. If they have issues with it and reject it, you’ll need to get a Party Wall Award, which is much more complicated to get. That’s why a suitable Party Wall Notice is invaluable, as it increases the likelihood of it being agreed to, saving you time and money.
Party Wall Agreement FAQs
What’s included in a Party Wall Agreement?
When making a Party Wall Agreement, there are various things that you need to include to ensure it’s accurate and detailed enough to be used as a source of what is allowed. In addition to needing details such as the addresses of both properties, you should also include details of the work you plan to do, the intended outcome, what areas of the properties you’re going to be working on, as well as the timeframe you expect the work to be completed in.
It’s also wise to include what hours of the day you’re allowed to work on the wall, and you should also have a written statement that the work has been agreed to, alongside a declaration that the agreement is following the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
Do you need a Party Wall Agreement?
Before starting work on a party wall, you must get either a Party Wall Agreement or a Party Wall Award. Either document permits you to work on the wall, although it’s best to get an agreement, as it means that your neighbour is happy for the work to go ahead.
If you work on a wall without permission, you can be taken to court and charged for damages you may have done to the wall.
What happens if you can’t get a Party Wall Agreement?
If your neighbour has rejected a Party Wall Notice, and you can’t agree about what work can be done and how it is done, you’ll need to get a Party Wall Award. A party wall surveyor is required to assess the property and the party wall and use their findings to issue a final document that details what is permitted.
What work needs a Party Wall Agreement?
You only need to get a Party Wall Agreement if you’re planning work covered in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. All these kinds of work affect the wall's structural integrity and include things like adding extensions to the party wall or removing it.
You do not need a Party Wall Agreement if you’re making more cosmetic changes to the party wall, such as painting it, adding wallpaper, or putting up shelves on it.
Can a Party Wall Agreement be Verbal?
No, a Party Wall Agreement cannot be verbal. Even if you get enthusiastic consent from your neighbour, it must be written to be used as evidence. Having it all written down makes it clear what is allowed and irons out crucial details such as the hours you’re allowed to work.
Do you need a Party Wall Agreement across the whole UK?
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 only covers England and Wales, meaning that if you plan on working on a party wall in these areas, you must get an agreement in place beforehand. Scotland and Northern Ireland work differently and use common law to settle party wall issues, so an award like this isn’t required.
How long does it take to get a Party Wall Agreement?
When you send a Party Wall Notice, it must be replied to within 14 days. If not, the notice will automatically dissent, meaning that you’ll need a party wall surveyor to settle the dispute and issue an Award. As your neighbour has such a short timeframe to respond to your notice, you should expect acceptance of your notice, and thus the creation of an agreement, within two weeks. If it takes longer than this, you will have to prepare yourself to get a Party Wall Award instead.
How long does a Party Wall Agreement last?
Once a Party Wall Agreement has been drafted and created, it’s valid for up to a year, giving the neighbour who wants to work on the wall this timeframe for them to complete the job. Once it expires, and if the work is incomplete, a new agreement must be drafted.
How detailed should a Party Wall Agreement be?
You can make a Party Wall Agreement as detailed as you want, although it’s best to try to include as much as possible for clarity. It’s good practice to have clear outlines of the different phases of work and things such as the permitted working hours. Your agreement should be long enough to cover everything about your proposed work. Less demanding building work on a party wall usually has smaller Party Wall Agreements than more complicated work.
Can I get help creating a Party Wall Agreement?
If you’re worried about making a mistake when drafting your Party Wall Notice or agreement, you can get an impartial surveyor to help you and ensure you don’t miss any key details. Getting professional assistance allows you to create the best agreement possible, allowing for a smooth building work process.