Property deed is key in dispute over satellite dish on rowhouse

Mailbag

October 27, 2002

Dear Mr. Azrael:

I live in a rowhouse with a slate roof. Recently, my neighbor climbed up on my roof and installed a satellite dish on my chimney when I was at work.

I asked my neighbor to remove it, and he said he would.

After two weeks of waiting, I asked again. My neighbor said it was a "shared" chimney.

Can you help me solve this problem?

Katherine Yarlott

Baltimore

Dear Ms. Yarlott:

The property description in your deed should make clear whether the chimney is "shared." In general, each owner of neighboring rowhouses owns to the center of the partition wall between the two properties, and shares the use of the wall in common. With respect to chimneys, I would expect that each owner would have exclusive property rights of the side of the chimney which is on their side of the center line of the partition wall.

Assuming your property deed confirms that the use of the chimney is not "shared," your neighbor has no right to install a satellite dish on your property. You can use self-help to remove it if your neighbor will not take it down. I suggest that you ask your attorney to review your property deed, and then write a letter to your neighbor explaining that he is violating your property rights and must remove the dish.

If your neighbor still refuses, after written notice, you can either remove the dish or file a lawsuit to request the court to order your neighbor to remove it.

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