Boundary Walls and Fences in France

  1. Is it a Private or Common Wall?
  2. Rights Concerning Private Boundary Walls
  3. Planning Rules on New Construction
  4. Maintenance of Common Boundary Wall
  5. Constructing Against Common Boundary Wall
  6. Increasing Height of Common Boundary Wall
  7. Relinquish Shared Ownership of Wall

5. Constructing Against a Common Boundary Wall

In principle, each party has the right to construct against a shared wall or to lay supporting beams upon it, but anyone envisaging such works should proceed with great care because of the risk of legal action.

In construction terms the basic rule that applies is that anyone proposing to construct on a boundary wall is obliged to leave a space of at least 5.4cm width on the side of the neighbour, or at least half the width of the wall.

On the other hand, neither party can make an opening in a shared wall except by common accord.

Whilst the consent of the neighbour is not formally required for construction work, the law presumes that at least some attempt should be made for it to proceed on a mutually agreeable basis.

Normally, plans should be drawn up and the signature of the neighbouring owner obtained to the plans.

If the works are complicated or substantial then the advice of a builder and/or architect should also be obtained.

It may also be necessary to apply for planning permission, for which purpose the local mairie should be consulted.

If the neighbour opposes the works (because they consider that either it will impair the solidity of the wall or it infringes on the enjoyment of their own property), then recourse is to a tribunal d’instance.

The court can either authorise the works or require that they be stopped, and that it be either modified or demolished.

The use of an avocat is not obligatory in these circumstances. The court will appoint an appropriate expert to advise on whether or not the work should be allowed to proceed and, if so, on what terms.

If the court grants permission for the works to proceed, but it continues to be opposed by the neighbour, then the case would need to be considered by the tribunal de grande instance, where the use of an avocat is mandatory. The court can award damages if they consider it appropriate.

Next: Increasing the Height of a Common Wall

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