From rowhomes to condos, many properties in the Phoenix metropolitan area have party walls. A party wall is a divider that straddles the property line between two independently owned homes. Consequently, each property owner typically owns only one side of the party wall.
If you are thinking about buying a residence that has one or more party walls, reading through the party wall agreement is part of your due diligence. After all, you are likely to have a legal obligation to comply with the terms of the agreement.
What do party wall agreements do?
Party wall agreements tell both property owners what they can and cannot do with the wall. Most agreements also have provisions that require owners to maintain and repair party walls. Thus, if you have big dreams of renovating your new property, the party wall agreement may significantly restrict your options.
According to reporting from CBS News, disputes between neighbors can be serious or even deadly in the Phoneix area. If you live in a property with a party wall agreement, the agreement may control how you handle disputes. That is, the agreement may include an extrajudicial procedure for resolving wall-associated disagreements.
Can you modify a party wall agreement?
If you review an existing party wall agreement and do not like its terms, you may have an opportunity to negotiate modifications before closing. To do so, you must talk with the other owner of the party wall. On the other hand, if there is no party wall agreement in place, you may be able to draft one after consulting with the other property owner and your real estate attorney.
Ultimately, your prime opportunity for understanding, changing or creating a party wall agreement for your new home is prior to picking up the keys. After closing, your options are likely to decrease significantly.