You cannot transform a terrace for exclusive use into a veranda

Justice recalls that the right of private use of a common part does not allow its appropriation.

In co-ownership, the right to use only a common part does not allow to make definitive installations because that would be an appropriation, ruled the Court of Cassation (Cass. Civ 3, 22.10.2020, A 19-12.588). She therefore found fault with a co-owner who had transformed into veranda the terrace to which he had only access. The co-owner in question felt that there was no difference between the terrace and the veranda and that, since he was authorized to use it alone, anything was permitted. The condominium, he considered, is not more disturbed depending on whether the terrace is covered and closed, or not.

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But for judges, these two scenarios are different. If the terrace is not covered or closed, the co-owner only uses it as intended, as authorized. On the other hand, if he closes it and covers it, he attaches it to his private apartment, he appropriates a common part, which can be contested by the syndicate of co-owners. The risk for the syndicate would be to see, at the end of thirty years, this co-owner declaring himself the sole owner since he would have clearly and publicly behaved, during all this time, as owner, without being contradicted.

Risk of appropriation

But the Court ruled in January 2018 that a co-owner who had used alone for at least thirty years the garden located in front of his lot could not decide to appropriate it. Neither, she said, on the pretext that he had been the only one to use it for thirty years, cannot believe that he has acquired a perpetual right of exclusive use over this garden.

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