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Judgment 30/2020 (Common Areas in Buildings)

Issuing Authority: Kozani Court of First Instance
Proceedings: Regular
Lawyer Who Appeared in Court: Athanasios Rozou

The change in use and the occupation of common areas are the most frequent reasons for confrontation in apartment buildings between the horizontal property owners.

“Horizontal properties” in multi-unit mixed-use or residential buildings is a Greek legal term for units that can be owned as individual properties (for instance: flats and ground-floor stores). The owner of a “horizontal property” has the absolute ownership of his “horizontal property” but he shares the ownership of the common areas of the building, such as the main entrance of the building, the car park, and the backyard. Such cases of misuse are, for example, the use of the car parks for the storage of movable property, the construction of improvised and arbitrary (urban planning) shacks as storage areas in pre-gardens and lawns, as well as the parking of bicycles and two-wheeled vehicles at the main entrances of apartment buildings.

When there is no solution by removing the infringement or even by way of a compromise, recourse to the courts to settle the dispute is a one-way street. The horizontal property owners affected by arbitrary interference in common areas must not tolerate such behavior and immediately seek to remove the infringement. Otherwise, so long as they do not exercise their rights, there is a risk over the years that they will become weakened to the extent that such rights cannot be protected even through the courts.

The following case handled by our firm concerns a dispute between co-owners of apartments in a small family apartment building regarding the use of common areas. The plaintiff (our opponent) argued in court, amongst other things, for the removal of an improvised warehouse (shack), which had been erected by one of our assignors in a communal external corridor of the apartment building, as well as the change in use of the communal garden of the building from a courtyard to a car park of a private vehicle, in accordance with the planning permission for the construction of the building. The Court granted its first application, but rejected the second as abusive, upheld the intensity of abusiveness which we alleged. The Court based the abusiveness on the one hand on the eighteen-year inaction and tolerance of this situation by the plaintiff and on the other hand on the adverse consequences that would have been experienced by our other client (defendant) due to the conversion of the courtyard into a car park for a vehicle. In particular, in the latter case, the courtyard would be damaged, and its level would be raised by at least sixty centimeters, resulting in the reduction of the (already insufficient) lighting of the semi-basement apartment of our defendant client. On the contrary, the Court held that, if the situation remained as it was, the consequences for the plaintiff (our opponent) would not be so adverse, as he would be deprived of the possibility of parking his private vehicle in the courtyard, which was nevertheless parked anyway on the streets adjacent to the apartment building.

Although the above decision partially upheld the action of the opposing party, we considered it as a victory (even to go as far as considering it to be a big victory) and the result fully satisfied us. The Court could not fail to order the demolition of the communal warehouse due to the fact that, on the one hand, it was arbitrary in urban planning and, on the other hand, not all of the co-owners of the horizontal properties of the building had consented to its construction. However, the Court could, as it did, consider the defendant's request to change the use of the courtyard to a car park to be abusive, which we requested, basing our objection on every possible argument and demonstrable mean.

One of the areas of expertise of our law firm is the law with respect to apartment buildings. If you have any problems in your building, we can advise you and take care of your case

[Extract from Court Ruling]

Consequently, the exercise of the plaintiff's above right in the action, especially with regards to the use of the pre-described uncovered space as a parking space, is abusive.


The Court PARTIALLY ACCEPTS the lawsuit.

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