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French property: Who is responsible for the upkeep of a shared wall?

Partner article: Shared wall upkeep should be split fairly with neighbours, unless it has been damaged by one of the parties or one of the people wants to sell it off

With a shared wall in France, responsibility for its upkeep falls 50-50 on each neighbour Pic: David Andres Gutierrez / Shutterstock

Reader question: We have a wall dividing our property from our neighbour’s house. Who is responsible for the upkeep of it? 

In most cases, both of you share responsibility for normal upkeep, each on your own side. Similarly, if expensive repairs are needed, you are both responsible and should pay 50-50.

Agreement should be reached about the work and the cost before it starts.

Things get complicated when one neighbour says they do not have the money to repair the wall, or they do not want to fix it. In this case, you can go ahead and repair it, but the neighbour will still own half.

Or you can try to get a legal judgment forcing them to pay (before work starts) by going to a médiateur or conciliateur de justice. This is now the first step for most minor civil claims. Only if no agreement is reached do cases go to court.

The neighbour can also unilaterally give up their rights to the wall, even once a court case has concluded in your favour, as long as the wall does not support a building on their property.

To do so, they must send you a registered letter stating their wish, and pay to get the change legalised by a notaire and published on the cadastral record.

If a wall has been damaged by the actions of one of the people sharing it, they alone must pay the cost of repairing it.

Author: Sarah Bright-Thomas, Bright Avocats. Bright Avocats provides French legal advice

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