Obtaining Costs for Damage to a Party Wall After the Adjoining has Sold their Property

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

If I as a building owner obtain an award from a surveyor against the adjoining owner under the Party Wall Act for him to pay the costs of repairs to a party wall (necessitated by him undermining the wall structure) and the adjoining owner  subsequently sells the land , do I pursue the award with the old owner or does the liability pass to the new owner of the land. The new owner was not served with any of the notices and is unaware of the award.

Answer 

One quick question, if you are the Building Owner i.e. the party undertaking the works, how did the Adjoining Owner undermine the party wall?

If it was your neighbour that was undertaking work that came within the scope of the Act he should have served you with a notice and he would be the Building Owner. If the damage has been done and nobody served notice than this cannot be dealt with under the Party Wall Act – you will have to make a civil claim for damages.

Also, you can’t get and award ‘against’ someone under the Act – an award is agreed between surveyors acting for both owners.

Question 

The circumstance is that the foundations of a  boundary wall were undermined which required repair and the surveyor made a Party Wall Act award against the adjoining owner, who had caused the problem. The adjoining owner then sold the land. Does the building owner recover the cost of the award  from the adjoining owner or can they recover from the new adjoining owner who knew nothing of the award when he purchased?

Follow-up 

The claim would be against the former owner whose actions caused the damage. However, the Party Wall Award is unlikely to be valid if it was made after the damage occurred. Awards are agreed and served on the owners before work commences. It is possible to have an addendum award later to deal with damage but that must follow the principle award.

For a single surveyor to have made an award he would have had to been formally appointed by both owners.