Lance R. Pomerantz
Attorney at Law

Land     Title     Law

“Constructive Notice”  The  Newsletter

Excerpted from the February 2, 2016 mailing of "Constructive Notice":

Party Wall Easement Extends Only So Far

The Long Building and the Short Building shared a brick party wall. The party wall was completely within the boundary of the Long Building parcel. The Short Building was set back from the street line so that a significant portion of the party wall formed one side of the courtyard in front of the Short Building. The Short Building’s owner installed lighting and utilities on the exposed portion of the wall. The Long Building sued for trespass and the Short Building countered that it enjoyed an easement in the party wall.

The trial court ordered removal of the light fixtures and utility lines and the Appellate Division affirmed. Stamp v. 301 Franklin Street Café, Inc. 2016 NY Slip Op 00410 (3rd Dept. Jan.21, 2016). The fixtures and utilities were “beyond the scope of a party wall easement.” They “neither provided support to defendant's building nor contributed in any way to the maintenance of a dividing wall between the buildings. Instead, they were installed solely for defendant's ‘mere convenience or advantage’" in operating its business.

An interesting twist is that the Short Building was allowed to retain a doorway it had constructed through the wall (into the Long Building’s parking lot) as long as it was used solely for emergency purposes.


The Short Building had tried to claim adverse possession of the entire wall based on its use of the interior portion of the wall for shelves, decorations, and similar purposes.  The Court treated the interior and exterior portions of the wall differently for purposes of adverse possession analysis, stating the alleged possessory acts concerned “areas as to which no challenge to the parties' respective ownership rights has been raised.”