A party wall is a dividing wall that is shared between two properties owned by separate parties. These types of walls can be organized into different categories of ownership, including tenancy in common, divided ownership, divided with easements, or owned subject to an easement. Wall ownership of these types, respectively, is either equally held by both parties, requires physical division of the wall and separate ownership (sometimes with an easement), or is owned by one of the two adjacent property owners subject to an easement. However, a party wall is generally presumed to be common property owned by two tenants in common unless there is some proof suggesting otherwise.
A case sometimes studied by law students involving a party wall dispute is Pile v. Pedrick, 167 Pa. 296, 31 A. 646 (1895). The parties involved disputed the boundary line drawn by an architect and the subsequent building of a wall on that boundary that encroached 1½ in. onto the plaintiff’s land. Plaintiff rejected defendant’s offer to convert the wall into a party wall and chose to compel the defendant to chip off the offending part of the wall, but then rejected the defendant’s request for permission to do so. The court affirmed a holding that this wall was not a party wall and as a result required the defendant to destroy and rebuild the wall without trespass within 1 year.
[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]