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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Default Responsibility for Maintenance of Original Retaining Wall Between Two Attached Houses

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: New York (NYC)

    My husband and I own an attached house; we know that ownership of the party wall between the houses is shared by both homeowners. Does this apply as well to the retaining wall that extends along our backyards? It appears to be slightly on our neighbor's side, but it was apparently built at the same time as the houses in the 1920's (their house is ~6 feet higher than ours).

    Over the years, the wall has shifted at least a foot towards our yard and appears in danger of collapse. Do we share responsibility for rebuilding the wall, or does it rest with just one of us? Who would we talk to to find out? We've asked the company that performed the title search when we bought the property and also the real estate lawyer who assisted us at closing; neither could give us any useful information.

    We don't have a survey of the property, just the deed with descriptive dimensions of the property lines relative to the closest streets.

    We're on good terms with the neighbor and just want to know the facts before we approach them about repairs.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Responsibility for Maintenance of Original Retaining Wall Between Two Attached Ho

    You need to determine the location of the wall in respect to the boundary line, and from that determine responsibility for maintenance and repair. I assume from your facts as stated that there's nothing in the title history pertaining to the wall; if there is, it may be relevant.
    Quote Quoting New York City Administrative Code § 28-305.1.1. Structures located on the lot line of adjacent properties and partially on both properties.
    The owners of adjacent properties shall be responsible jointly for the proper maintenance and repair of retaining walls, partition fences and other site structures, or portions thereof, that are located along the common lot line and on both their properties; and each such owner shall be responsible for one-half of the costs of maintaining and repairing such fences, retaining walls and other site structures, or such portions thereof. Where an owner elects to remove temporarily a retaining wall or partition fence that is required to support a grade differential between the two properties, or for any other reason is required by this code, such owner shall protect the adjacent property, shall not impair its safe use, and shall replace the retaining wall or partition fence at his or her own cost.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Responsibility for Maintenance of Original Retaining Wall Between Two Attached Ho

    This is extremely helpful -- thank you so much for finding the relevant code for us! I think that this describes our situation (at least, it's sufficient to have in hand as we approach our neighbors).

    I'd found a couple of references on nyc.gov that both parties to a shared retaining wall were responsible for its upkeep, but this makes it much more explicit.

    All the best to you.

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