Party walls are those common walls located on or along the boundary line between adjoining properties for the benefit and use of the owners of both properties. Each owner has an easement in that portion of the wall owned by the other and an easement over as much of the adjoining property as is necessary for the lateral support of the wall and the attached building.
An exception must be taken for a recorded party wall agreement that defines the rights and obligations of the parties. In townhouse developments where each owner owns fee simple title to the land under his specific unit and holds a common interest with adjacent property owners in the party walls, there must be a recorded agreement, declaration, or covenant containing a provision covering party walls. That agreement, covenant, or declaration must also be raised as an exception. If there is no recorded party wall agreement, but a party wall is common to exist, an exception should be raised for the party walls and the rights of the adjoining neighbors according to these guidelines:
• If there is no agreement of record and the party wall is located on the property line, an exception must be made for the rights of the adjoining property owner as to the party wall and as much of the insured land as is necessary for lateral support of the wall and the attached building.
• If there is no agreement of record and the party wall is completely located on the insured land, an exception must be made as to the rights of the adjoining property owner as to the wall and as to the encroachment.
• If there is no agreement of record and the wall is completely located on the adjoining property, exception must be made as to the existence of the party wall, the rights of the adjoining owner in and to the party wall, and the encroachment unto the adjoining property, unless the parties record a party wall agreement containing the requisite easement.
Where walls are adjacent and self-supporting such as in zero lot line developments, provided the walls are independent, self-supporting, and do not cross the property line, no exception need be made for the wall. If there is an encroachment by the wall then the encroachment must be raised as an exception unless there is an agreement allowing the maintenance of the wall on the adjoining property.