Joint ownership can be defined as a regime of forced joint ownership which concerns the dividing fences: walls, hedges, pits. It is a genuine property right that two people enjoy in common, and not a servitude
What is joint-ownership?
Joint- ownership is governed by articles 653 to 673 of the Civil Code.
A joint- ownership wall is shared between the two neighbors, they are co-owners. This is known as forced co-ownership because such a joint ownership is theoretically permanent.
When two neighboring owners decide to build a fence based on the dividing line of their land at a common expense, it is joint. The establishment of this fence, joint from the start, is due to an amicable agreement. One can also amicably acquire the joint ownership of a fence which is already carried out on your land.
Acquisition of joint ownership constitutes a transfer of ownership and requires a land survey document but also notarial act, written by your notary. This leads to moving and dividing the line of properties because half of the strip on which the wall now rests belongs to each of the neighbors privately. The purchaser must pay half the wall’s cost and half the value of the land on which it is built.
The joint-ownership system doesn’t apply to walls which belongs to the public sector. Only a wall depending on the private domain of the community or the state could be adjoining.
How is joint ownership established or not established?
The hierarchy of forms of evidence that make it possible to establish joint ownership is as follows:
- Acquisitive prescription : lean a building against the wall of one’s neighbor for thirty years, without the latter protesting, makes it possible to claim joint ownership of the part of the wall used.
- The title: notarial act which will specify whether the fence is private or joint, but if this title is not common to the two neighbors, it is only a presumption which is subject to the discretion of courts.
- Marks of non-joint ownership of the wall (art. 654 of Civil Code): when the top of the wall has an inclined plane or when this wall has net or corbels on one side only, it is presumed to belong to a single owner, the one towards which the inclined plane is headed along with the corbel and nets.
- Marks of non-joint ownership of pits (art. 666 of Civil Code): when lifting or rejecting the ground is only on one side of the pit.
- The presumptions of wall’s joint-ownership (art. 653 and 666 of Civil Code): a wall is presumed to be adjoining since it serves as a separation between two buildings until it is housed, or between a courtyard and a garden or between field enclosures.
- Presumptions of joint ownership of a fence or pit (Art. 666 of Civil Code): any fence that separates estates is deemed to be adjoining unless there is a title, prescription or mark for the contrary and any pit is deemed to belong exclusively to the one with the dismissal.
Rights of joint ownership
Each of the neighbors can lean constructions against the wall and drive beams into them, with the consent of the other owner of the wall or, failing that an expert. Each owner can also support wall bars, provided they do not go beyond the wall’s ridgeline.
Anyone can rent the face of the wall on the side of their property for advertising purposes without referring to their neighbor and without having to share the collected fee. No opening (doors, windows) can be made in a joint- ownership wall without the neighbor's consent.
Any co-owner can raise the joint- ownership wall or increase its thickness. He shall then bear the costs alone because the raised or increased part is his property. If the joint-ownership wall is not able to withstand the elevation, whoever wants to raise it must have it rebuilt in its entirety at his own expense
Obligations of adjoining co-owners
The two neighbors must jointly contribute to the costs of maintaining, repairing, or rebuilding the joint- ownership wall.
However, the rule is set aside when the work is made necessary by the fact of only one of the owners: therefore, the owner who demolishes the building must carry out the waterproofing work of the remaining joint- ownership wall, which is now subject to no protection in terms of bad weather.
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