Walls and disputes: when a non-load-bearing wall becomes condominium


Emma Potter

The determination of the condominium nature or not of a wall can lead to complex legal disputes, as demonstrated by the case analyzed by ruling 9927/2022 of the Court of Naples.

This story concerns a containment wallnon-load-bearing, whose maintenance costs have been contested, raising fundamental questions about the responsibilities and rights of condominium owners.

The case examines in detail whether a wall which supports private gardens but is not essential to the structure of the building can be considered a condominium asset.

But what are the criteria for defining a property as condominium? And how can these definitions influence the daily life and safety of condominiums?

Distribution of condominium expenses: the specific case

The heart of the dispute focused on the resolution with which the condominium shared the costs for securing a retaining wall in the gardens of the property units located on the ground floor.

The owners of an apartment on the mezzanine floor contested the resolution. Their main argument was that the assembly should not charge for works on assets which do not fulfill a common property function and which therefore cannot be considered condominium assets.

The situation was complicated by the observation of the Municipality's hydrogeological defense and housing safety service, which found lesions on the surrounding wall on the terrace owned by the condominium.

These cracks, present on the perimeter of the wall, posed a risk of collapse in the garden below.

In response to this dangerous situation, the Municipality prohibited access to the terrace and the garden, ordering the condominium to urgently carry out safety work on the retaining wall of the gardens and to check the stability of the surrounding wall.

The analysis conducted by the structural engineer in charge confirmed that the load-bearing walls of the building did not exert pressure on the retaining wall. This led the owners of the apartment on the mezzanine floor to argue that, since the retaining wall does not have a direct support function for the condominium property, it would not be fair to attribute the costs for the works to them.

Contrasting positions and the court's decision

Despite the arguments of the owners on the mezzanine floor, the condominium underlined the importance of the retaining wall, highlighting how it performed a crucial function as a perimeter wall and protection for the floors below street level.

From this perspective, the wall not only physically delimited the area, but also guaranteed safety against possible landslides or other geological risks, performing an indirect but essential function for the integrity of the building.

The issue was finally resolved by the Court with ruling 9927/2022, which had to consider whether the wall in question was necessary for the existence of the building or whether it was permanently intended for the common use of condominiums.

The judges concluded that the retaining wall did not delimit the perimeter of the condominium, but exclusively served the privately owned garden areas. Therefore, not being a common goodthe Court accepted the appeal of the owners of the apartment on the mezzanine floor, annulling the condominium resolution for the distribution of expenses.