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

2. Rights Concerning Private Boundary Walls

Owners have a right in law to enclose their property, although there are rules that govern how this may be undertaken, including local planning regulations.

If you live on a housing development (lotissement) then there may be particular rules that apply.

The rural legal code considers a property to be enclosed if its border has a hedge of 1.20m or more in height, or a ditch at least 0.50m deep.

If you are undertaking work to your boundary it is imperative that you do not go over your boundary line as the law is very strict on this point.

The courts take no account of the fact that you may have planning consent and that it may have been an accidental error, made in good faith. You can be required to take it down and do the work again.

By same token, however, there is no need to feel you need to fence back from the boundary line.

Consult with your neighbour and confirm in writing.

If necessary, undertake a process of bornage to establish the precise boundaries.

Whilst, in general, you are allowed to enclose your property it is not possible if it is considered to be against the public interest.

Thus, if your property is alongside the sea, your border cannot prevent people walking along the coastline. Similarly, if you live alongside the river, and there is a dragging lane, you cannot enclose this lane.

You also have to have regard to servitudes of visibility, notably in relation to properties at a dangerous road junction or crossroads. In such circumstances you may not be permitted to erect an enclosure above a certain height.

Neighbours have a right of access through your land if they cannot get to their property from the public highway, or other right of way.

This right of way may have been established in law or by convention. The right is called le droit de désenclavement.

Law has established you can still enclose the land, provided you do not impede access and that you leave sufficient space for them to gain access, including access with farm machinery if relevant.

If land is enclosed with the objective of causing harm or injury to a neighbour then a court of law can order that it be changed or demolished.

Thus, courts have determined that a boundary wall that was constructed merely to deprive a neighbour of sunshine had to be removed.

Similarly, a wall that was constructed that had the aim to reducing the view of neighbour had to be demolished.

Next: Planning Rules on New Construction

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