According to the law, a wall is said to be dividing when it separates a building, a courtyard from a garden or fields. If in doubt about the ownership of a wall, you can find information on the title deed. The rights concerning party walls are different from those governing private walls.
Party wall: rights and duties
When a wall is shared, its maintenance and possible repairs are the responsibility of the two owners. All conservation, repair or reconstruction of the wall must be done with the agreement of both parties. The owners of the party wall must in no case damage the wall, nor infringe the rights of the other owner. If one of the owners wants to undertake work and he does not have the agreement of his neighbor, he cannot share the costs generated by the work. Depending on the type of work carried out, it may even be forced to return the wall to its initial state. If the party wall threatens to collapse, the situation is considered urgent and the works can be organized by only one of the owners. The costs will be shared. In the event of a dispute, the owners must defer to the tribunal de grande instance which concerns them.
What about works?
Even if a wall is shared, one of the two owners can decide to undertake work on his side and at his expense. The authorized modifications are raising or increasing the thickness of the wall. In this case, the raised or thickened part of the wall belongs only to the person who carried out the work. The owner who wishes to undertake work must still have the authorization of his neighbor. The latter can request joint ownership for the entire wall. If this new joint ownership is granted, the costs related to the work carried out will then be shared.
Rebuild a party wall
If a party wall needs to be rebuilt, the two owners will have to share the costs. Both of them must imperatively respect the regulations that apply in their municipality and therefore make a declaration to the town hall. In cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, the height of party walls must be more than 3.20m. In cities with less than 50,000 inhabitants, the height of party walls is limited to 2m60.
Obtaining the joint ownership of a wall
A private wall, built between two properties, can become a party wall. The non-owner neighbor must apply for joint ownership. The latter can be accepted by the current owner or refused. If the plaintiff contests the refusal, he can appeal to the high court of his jurisdiction. Once joint ownership is accepted or legally recognized, each decision must be made by mutual agreement between the two parties. All costs related to the maintenance, work or reconstruction of the party wall will be shared.