Dealing with Noise Nuisance in France
- Definition of Noise Nuisance
- Negotiation and Mediation
- Police Intervention
- Criminal Proceedings
- Civil Proceedings
- Commercial Noise
2. Negotiation and Mediation
Clearly, as with most problems in life, we take it that you have tried, in the first instance, to resolve it on an amicable basis with your neighbour. This is not just common sense, but also an important stage in the process to later legal action.
If you later need to take legal action the court will want to see evidence that you have tried to resolve the problem on an amicable basis.
Try and not get into a conflict with your neighbour before you have discussed the problem, as it is likely to be more difficult to resolve if relations have already deteriorated.
You should not necessarily assume that your neighbour is acting in bad faith, as this will sour the approach you are likely to take.
One approach is to invite your neighbour into your property to listen to the noise so that they can understand why you have raised the problem with them.
If this approach does not work then you should send a letter, by recorded delivery, setting out your complaint. Ensure you keep a copy of the receipt of delivery.
If you live in a block of flats, or co-ownership property, then you should contact the syndic, or managing agents, for the flats and seek their intervention.
If you are the landlord of a tenanted property then you are responsible for the actions of your tenants in relations with their neighbours, and serious noise nuisance is a ground for terminating the tenancy.
If you are unable to resolve the matter at an individual level then you may wish to consider resource to a mediator, an approach, which will also be looked upon favourably by the court should you later need to bring a legal action.
Throughout France, the services of state appointed Conciliateurs de justice are available to anyone who may have a dispute with another person or organisation.
A conciliateur is someone with experience in the legal system, but who offers their services at no charge.
Accordingly, the service is free although the conciliateur cannot oblige your neighbour to participate in the process nor impose a solution upon them.
Nevertheless, the fact that you can bring evidence that your neighbour is unwilling to join in the process can be used as evidence of their lack of good faith in trying to resolve the problem.
The Conciliateurs are bound by an obligation of professional secrecy, so anything you tell them cannot be conveyed to a third party or court of law without your consent.
If the Conciliateur is able to bring you together and arrive at a solution then it is usual for a written agreement (constat d’acord) to be signed between you.
In addition, if you do reach a signed agreement, you may be later able to go to a court of law or a huissier (an official bailiff) to secure performance of the agreement by your neighbour.
Your local mairie or a Tribunal d’instance should be able to give you the name of the conciliateur in your area.
If the problem persists, and it is a serious one, then the next stage is to try and arrange for either a representative of the mairie to intervene.
The local mairie have a legal responsibility to intervene in noise problems as part of their wider obligations to maintain the peace, although in Paris it is the direct responsibility of the national police.
However, it is rarely easy to get either the mairie to act.
If the noise is occurring at night then you should contact the local police/gendarmes. Whether or not the gendarmes/police attend will also depend on the level of their other more urgent commitments.
In general, you are best advised to start off with an initial approach to the mairie and get their support in the matter, as they are then more likely to have greater influence in persuading the police to intervene.
Should you be successful in getting either the mairie to visit, it is very unlikely that any no noise measuring equipment will be used to establish whether there is a nuisance. The judgement they come to will, therefore, be entirely subjective!
If they consider a nuisance is being caused then they may decide to either give a gentle warning or write up a formal witness statement (procès-verbal) a copy of which is given to the perpetrator of the noise.
In severe cases the mairie have the power to issue an order (arrêté) that the activity cease or that action be taken to reduce the noise level.
More often than not, no action will be taken, in the hope that their attendance has been sufficiently persuasive.
It may well be that you will need to continue to ask the mairie to visit on further occasions if the problem persists.
If you feel that the mairie, in particular, are not taking the problem seriously enough, then you can write to the Préfet with a complaint about their inaction.
You may similarly wish to write direct to the Procureur de la République with your complaint, together with any further supporting evidence including, in particular, any evidence you may have from the local huissier.
Next: Police Intervention
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