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practice of surveyors must depend upon a knowledge of the different kind of party walls; but where it is known that the owners of a party wall are tenants in common, then (in cases where Building Acts do not apply) an adjoining owner desiring to build upon a party wall, and failing to get the consent of his adjoining owner, can commence an action for partition, and may thus obtain a division of the wall and a right to do what he pleases with his half so divided, whether by building on it or what not, provided that he does not injure his neighbour's half. No doubt, where any easements of support exist, these would be safeguarded by the order for partition, and when complicated rights of that kind existed an order for partition might possibly be refused; but, nevertheless, the application for a partition may be useful in particular and exceptional cases, and especially where the expense of an action for partition would more than compensate for the difficulties or expense of building a new wall.
Party walls are of four kinds, for which Watson v. Gray, L.R. 14 Ch. D. 192, is an authority :
(1.) A wall of which the two adjoining owners are tenants in common.
(2.) A wall divided into two longitudinal strips, one belonging to each of the adjoining owners.
(3.) A wall entirely belonging to one of the adjoining owners, but subject to an easement or right in the other to have it maintained as a dividing wall between the two tenements.
(4.) A wall divided longitudinally into two halves, each half being subject to a cross easement in favour of the owner of the other half.
A partition, therefore, of a wall of the first kind, where cross easements exist, would convert the wall into a party wall of the fourth kind. This conversion might be of advantage, because then each owner would have a right to deal with
his own half, provided he did not injure the other half. For example, therefore one owner could not pull down his half to the destruction of the stability of the other half, nor could he raise on his half to such an extent as to impose an additional burden on his neighbour's half. But in certain cases the knowledge that the Courts will apply the Partition Acts to the division of a party wall may be very useful to surveyors. Knowledge of power is always useful, and it may be in this case, even as a lever to induce an adjoining owner to consent to a reasonable extension of the use of the common property. A. A. HUDSON, Associate.
Note on the Working of the Small Holdings Act.
The Agricultural Holdings Act, 1892, was, no doubt, an honest attempt to establish small holdings on a considerable scale, and to increase the numbers of the landowning class, but, so far, it has only proved that among the British peasant class there is not evident any great disposition or ability to buy land, and experience shews that the area on which the principle of small holdings can be successfully applied is very limited. Those members of county councils who have sat in committee to hear applications for land under the Act have been sadly disappointed to find what a very small number of applicants are willing to accept their holdings under the purchase system. The greater number of them are only desirous of renting for short terms, and the general wish appears to be for a yearly tenancy. This may arise from the fact that the future of agriculture is still uncertain, and it is impossible to say whether agriculturists have touched the bottom of the depression. A labourer who has saved a little money, and who aspires to become a small landowner, may well hesitate to embark his savings
in an enterprise which binds him to a fixed rent-charge, which rent-charge must be paid whether matters grow
worse or not.
Though the Act clearly contemplates, and is framed throughout for, purchase, only throwing in leasing as a subsidiary element where purchase is proved to be impracticable, the labourer shews no disposition to rise to the occasion, no matter in how tempting a shape the proposition may be placed before him.
For the English peasant to become a proprietor under the Act means that he will for 50 years (that is, probably, the whole of his life), have to pay a greater annual sum, in order to make freehold the land he takes up, than if he were merely renting it; and, in addition, he has to find and pay down a sum representing one-fifth of the purchasemoney. His proprietary instincts are not sufficiently strong to induce him to pinch himself in order to benefit posterity. The capital that he is finding, as part payment of the purchase-money, would, if added to the money that he must necessarily find to stock the small holding he is taking up, enable him to take a much larger farm, if he rented the same, in the ordinary way under the present system, from a large landowner; and he knows that under the latter he will, practically, be better off, as he will get the greater part of his repairs done for him, and, should times go worse, will, probably, get further reductions in his rent.
Most estates in England have been laid out in somewhat larger farms than those ideal holdings advocated by Mr. JESSE COLLINGS and others; and, whatever may be said to the contrary, larger holdings have been in the past, and, theoretically, still are, the best and most successful for the economic production of the chief factors of agricultural
To fit and equip these farms for small holdings must
necessarily entail a large capital expenditure, and, in addition, the original equipment of the larger holding has, in the first instance, to be purchased with the land and subsequently done away with. It is impossible to lose sight of the fact that in the formation of small holdings in England from existing farms there are, in addition to the value of the land, two equipments which have to be paid for-first, the equipment which exists and forms part of the farm when first acquired, and which has, practically, to be done away with; and, secondly, the equipment necessary in order to adapt the farm to the new purposes for which it is required.
It is calculated that to take up 20 acres of fairly good land from a farm already equipped, and fit and adapt it for the purposes of a small holding, would entail, in order to make it freehold, an annual rent-charge, for 50 years, of £33 18s. 5d. But, having regard to the price of agricultural produce, it seems very doubtful whether a small farmer could make a living for himself and his family from such a holding, considering that, in addition, he would have to find working capital, pay the tithes, rates, and taxes, and live for the first year with no income. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that few labourers will exchange their wages of 14s. or 15s. per week, regularly paid, with an allotment of land and a low-rented cottage, for the tremendous work and privation needful for them to become peasant proprietors under the Act. It is to be feared that few new ownerships will be created, and that the Act itself is only another instance of the abortive results of State intervention in these matters.
H. HERBERT SMITH, Fellow.
Tithe Commutation Rent-Charge.
VALUE FOR THE YEAR 1894, &c.
For the year 1894 the value of £100 commuted tithe rent-charge, according to the average price of wheat, barley, and oats for the last seven years, will be £74 3s 93d.
The following figures, taken from Mr. TAYLOR's Tithe Rent-Charge Tables, published by Messrs. SHAW AND SONS, shew that there has been a fall in the value of tithe rentcharge annually since 1878:
The average annual value of £100 for the 58 years (1837 to 1894) is £99 6s. 74d.
The average price of an Imperial bushel of British wheat, barley, and oats, computed from the weekly averages