Party wall disputes in Jersey property law

Party wall disputes in Jersey property law

Party wall disputes are not uncommon and can arise from several different circumstances. Here, we look at what is meant by party wall in Jersey property law and how to avoid party wall disputes.

What is meant by a party wall in Jersey property law?

Under Jersey property law a party wall is the co-ownership of a wall or boundary structure that separates two adjacent properties belonging to different persons (mitoyenneté). A wall or other boundary structure can only be mitoyen if it is built along the line separating two properties.

How is a party wall established?

Mitoyenneté is established either by presumption of law or by agreement. The co-ownership of walls is established by agreement between the parties or, failing this, a presumption in law. In the absence of a written contract passed before Court or other proof establishing the type of ownership, the presumption is that the wall is mitoyen.

There is an exception to this presumption if the wall supports a building on one side and there are neither buildings nor remains thereof on the other. In such a case, it is presumed to belong to the person taking advantage of it (i.e. the presumption is that a predecessor in title built the wall on their land and at their own cost and therefore belongs to them).

What is a party wall dispute?

Party wall disputes can occur between neighbours when buildings are renovated or some other sort of construction work is carried out on a property. As one party instigates a change that affects both properties there can be permission issues. Determining what you can or can’t legally do with regard to a Jersey party wall can become a source of conflict and lead to disputes with your neighbour.

Common causes of party wall disputes include:

  • changes to a party fence
  • cutting into a party wall
  • demolition of a party wall or a section of it
  • digging or excavating beneath the foundations of a party wall
  • digging or excavating beneath a garden party wall
  • avoiding a party wall dispute

A party wall dispute that gets out of control can end up very expensive and cause a lingering cause of angst between you and your neighbour. Conflict between neighbours can cause real issues for both parties, so finding ways to avoid disputes is crucial. If you have an existing relationship with your neighbour, it can be useful to broach the idea of any renovation work in advance, so the construction doesn’t come as a surprise to them.

It is always advisable to contact an expert party wall dispute lawyer for advice, especially if you are carrying out major renovations that might affect a party wall or boundary — or if a neighbour is planning to carry out renovations or has started on renovations that might affect a party wall between you. Otherwise, if it gets out of hand, you may find the only way to resolve the issue is Royal Court proceedings.

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