Understanding Agreements For Neighbours Sharing Walls
When comparing different properties while searching for your new home, many different considerations come up. This includes purchasing a property with a shared wall. For example, if considering purchasing a duplex, always think about the shared wall that divides the two units. A party wall is the wall separating the different units. The shared party wall often includes specific legal obligations. Read more about party walls and the party wall agreements that govern them. Contact our Real Estate Lawyers at Kahane Law Office in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta with questions that come up.
What Is A Party Wall?
A party wall is considered a floor, ceiling, or wall that is in between you and your neighbour. This is typically found in semi-attached properties or condominiums. However, it also includes a wall shared on a garage with a shared wall. The party wall includes the entire wall separating the residences or other structural wall. It includes the drywall on each side of the wall as well as all the space and any home component, for example the plumbing or electrical wiring, inside it.
What Is A Party Wall Agreement?
A party wall agreement is a legal document that is signed by all parties that share the party wall. Most often, the builder signs the agreement as the owner of all units connected by the wall. The document outlines the ownership of the party wall. If drafted after the sale of units, then current owners of the properties sign the party wall agreement. It includes the rules and obligations you, as the owner(s) are legally responsible to uphold within the unit. For the agreement to oblige future owners of the properties, the agreement needs registration at the Alberta Land Titles Office. When buying a home, please review this and all registrations on title.
Terms Included In A Party Wall Agreement
When completing or reviewing a party wall agreement, the agreement includes different rules and obligations that you are responsible to follow. For example, the following typically forms part of party wall agreements:
- Ownership of the party wall;
- Restrictions on renovations;
- Maintenance to the party wall;
- Alterations of the party wall; and lastly
- Encroachments of the wall onto the neighbouring property.
When You Need An Agreement In Place
The simple answer is that you need a party wall agreement whenever a property includes a shared wall with a neighbour. When buying such a property without party wall agreements in place, plan to create one with your neighbour and register it on title. Doing this before issues arise is a form of insurance against future problems. If you or your neighbour want to alter the wall the agreement sets out all the rules. This helps avoid potential dispute between neighbours arising from alterations to the shared wall. In addition, it allows for rules concerning who pays for repairs and maintenance to the wall.
What Happens To Properties Without An Agreement On Title
If there is no party wall agreement in place, and you are altering the wall (i.e. changing the structure of the wall or building a new fence), your neighbour could make you stop the project. Your neighbour can stop the project until you and your neighbour come to an agreement with what can be done to alter the party wall. This could potentially delay your project for weeks. Also, it avoids situations where a legal battle stems from disagreements around who pays for repairs. Often these repairs include expensive fixes to problems, when they occur.
Why You Need A Party Wall
You and your neighbour typically should have a party wall agreement to establish the ownership and the rules and obligations of both parties sharing the wall. Having this agreement drafted before a potential issue between you and your neighbour(s) arises, helps with establishing a good neighbour relationship. Even if you think that you would be fine without a party wall agreement, since you have a good relationship with your neighbour, it is always good to have the agreement in place. Putting the agreement in place is significantly easier while the parties have a good relationship. A party wall agreement is also recommended when you are the full owner of the party wall so you can protect your property from any unwanted alterations if you sell a part of the property.
Our litigation lawyers represent clients in dispute with their neighbour. Most often, the dispute surrounds financial disagreements relating to damage of the wall or within the wall.
In addition, many cities in Alberta allow party wall agreements to deal with encroachments. In recent years, if the agreement lacks a specific clause allowing a party wall to stay in place, the city requires more than a encroachment agreement. Often, they require a re-drafting and dividing of the title at land titles. This is a much more expensive and time consuming process.
Lawyer Assisting With Party Wall Agreements & Fights
Our real estate lawyer assist clients with drafting and understanding party wall agreements. In addition, our litigation lawyers help when dispute arise from existing agreements or the lack thereof. Connect today if you require assistance with these or related issues at 403-225-8810 locally in Calgary, Alberta. Also connect with our team toll-free at 1-877-225-8817 or, for fast response times email us here directly.