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Garden Wall Constitutes a Neighbour Nuisance

Tuesday 10 September 2019

When a boundary wall between two homes is considered to be a neighbour nuisance.

In a recent court case held in the appeal court sitting in the Nord department of France, a couple claimed that the substantial boundary wall erected by their neighbours constituted a legal nuisance (trouble anormal de voisinage).

The couple had been living in Noeux le Mines since 1968, owners of a detached house whose garden was located below the property acquired in 2014 by their neighbour, who had a 3.50m high retaining wall topped with a wire mesh fence built against the embankment bordering their property.

The documents provided in court (photographs, bailiff's report and court expert report) established that for at least part of the day the wall plunged their well-appointed, attractive garden into shade.

According to the reports, this created a substantial loss of sunlight and an aesthetic prejudice as the couple were faced with a rough concrete wall that their neighbours had never bothered to decorate with falling plants to hide its unsightly appearance.

The court appointed expert also expressed surprise that they had obtained planning permission for the wall, as the local plan prohibited solid fences or concrete slabs and a height of fence higher than 1m50 on the dividing line.

In addition, the wall had caused a significant deformation of the ground, damaging to the slabs of the neighbour's driveway and to their gate, which no longer closed.

The court considered that the wall did constitute a neighbour nuisance, but that complete demolition to be excessive as it would impact adversely on the owners and adjoining neighbours.

The court therefore ruled that the neighbour should remove the wire mesh fence and reduce the height of the concrete wall by 1 metre, in addition to installing drainage to allow water run-off. They also ordered that the couple plant hanging plants to cover some of the wall.

The couple were also ordered to pay €12,000 for moral and financial prejudice and €2,640 for damage to their property.

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