Rights of Way in France

  1. Easements & Servitudes
  2. Landlocked Property
  3. Access for Property Maintenance
  4. Fishing Rights
  5. Shooting/Hunting Rights

3. Access for Property Maintenance - Le Droit de Tour d’Echelle

French law recognises the right of a property owner to obtain temporary access to a neighbour’s property in order to undertake maintenance work to their own property.

This right is known as le droit de tour d’échelle.

It is a phrase that supposes a need to place a ladder in the neighbour’s garden, or to erect scaffolding.

However, no one has the right to simply enter onto the property of a neighbour and commence maintenance activity.

In the first place, you need to approach your neighbour with a request for access, with details of how and when it is proposed to take place, and for what purpose.

Whilst no automatic right is granted, where a neighbour unreasonably refuses access, a court of law can order that access be granted for a specific and temporary purpose, and for a limited duration.

There may be local regulations that govern the operation of this rule so, in the event of dispute, you should contact your local mairie for further information.

Where the works are to be significant (of some duration and where the risk of damage to a neighbour’s property is quite possible) then it may be appropriate to arrange for a huissier (an official bailiff) to undertake a condition report on the site so that any subsequent damage can be later verified.

If a neighbour refuses access for legitimate property maintenance, for which access is imperatively required, then the matter would need to be considered by a Tribunal de Grande Instance. An urgent hearing for an injunction can be arranged under the process known as en référé.

There is no right in law that a neighbour be required to grant access for a new building. So, if you do need access for a new home, best to ask nicely! An extension would not be considered 'new' construction.

Nevertheless, since 2021 the 'Loi Climat' introduced a new right of access on to a neighbours land, provided it was to undertaken external insulation of the property. The law also grants a right to extend the limits of the property by 35cm for the insulation. You can read more at Nouveau Droit de Surplomb.

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