A recent case from Supreme Court, New York County, brings clarity to a conflict that can arise when a building that shares a party wall is demolished and the site is redeveloped without relying on the party wall.
In 145 W. 21st Realty LLC v. First West 21st Street LLC, 653241/12, NYLJ 1202792788020 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co. July 26, 2017), Justice Kelly O’Neill Levy had to decide whether a new building that extends above the party wall that it had formerly shared with the adjoining building, could also be built over part of the party wall, thus preventing neighbor from ever being able to exercise its right to extend the party wall up in the future. The court followed earlier cases that favor modern construction practices, and allowed the cantilever of the new structure over the old, holding that the obligations to a party-wall neighbor do not extend to the space above the party wall.
A party wall is a single wall constructed along a property line that is used by the two adjoining buildings to provide structural support for their beams. Typically, one half of the party wall sits on each owner’s property. Each owner owns the half of the party wall on its property, and has an easement on the other half of the wall. Brooks v. Curtis, 50 N.Y. 639, 642-3 (1873).