If you notice that your neighbour’s branches or brambles are sticking out on your property, what are your means of action? What does the law say? Explanations with Vincent Le Goc, a lawyer at the bar of Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine) and Yves Honhon, a lawyer at the bar of Nantes (Loire-Atlantique).
“I am a tenant of my accommodation, I have a private neighbour who has a hedge, made up of different species of trees, never maintained by this owner. I put it on notice, by registered mail, with an acknowledgement of receipt. He never received this letter. I consulted the conciliator of justice, four times, to try to regulate this business, without continuation. My lessor also, without any response and filed a complaint with the Nantes court. For almost two years, I have never had an answer from the court. So my question is simple, do I have to put up with this unscrupulous owner who leaves an invasive hedge planted less than 40 cm from the fence with branches over three meters high and overflowing, as well as brambles streaming into- me, more than four meters long, without anyone giving me the solution to solve this problem? »This question comes from Gervais, a reader living in Couëron, near Nantes (Loire-Atlantique).
Very good question, Gervais. Your neighbour’s plantations, therefore, encroach on your property. Whether it’s tree branches or brambles, can you take action against it? What does the law say and what are your rights? What are your remedies? We help you see things more clearly with Vincent Le Goc, a lawyer at the bar of Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine) and Yves Honhon, a lawyer at the Bar of Nantes (Loire-Atlantique).
What are the legal distances to respect for plantations?
First of all, “ Article 671 of the Civil Code prescribes legal distances to be respected for border plantings”, answers Yves Honhon, a lawyer at the bar of Nantes (Loire-Atlantique).
According to this text from you, the minimum distance to be respected in relation to neighboring land varies according to the height of the plantation. When the height of the plantation is less than or equal to two meters, the minimum distance to be respected at the border of neighbouring property is 50 centimetres. And when the height of the plantation is greater than two meters, the minimum distance to be respected is two meters.
Gervais, concerning you, if the plants of your neighbouring owner are planted 40 centimetres from the property line, it is “contrary to the law because the hedge is not adjoining”, explains the Nantes lawyer. “In this case, article 672 of the Civil Code provides that the owner has the right to ask the neighbour to reduce the height of the litigious plants or to uproot them. »
Be careful however, note that there is an exception to this rule since a 30-year-old tree, planted on the property line, escapes this law because of its age.
Can you cut your neighbour’s branches?
Do you have the right to cut your neighbour’s plantations yourself? Well no, you cannot, on your own initiative, cut the branches that stick out on your land. On the other hand, you can absolutely demand that your neighbouring owner cut down this invasive vegetation.
The situation, which you describe here, is governed by Article 673 of the Civil Code. “The person on whose property the branches of trees, bushes and shrubs of the neighbour are advancing may compel the latter to cut them. The fruits that fall naturally from these branches belong to him,” the law says.
Except for roots, brambles and twigs. There, it’s different, since you have every right to cut them yourself. “ If it is roots, brambles or twigs that advance on his inheritance, he has the right to cut them himself at the limit of the dividing line”, specifies article 673 of the Civil Code.
Nevertheless, you are strongly advised to “warn your neighbouring owner, in writing, that you are going to cut these brambles”, explains Me Vincent Le Goc.
Can you take action against your landlord?
Gervais, as you indicate, neither your lessor nor your neighbour respond to your amicable steps. If so, what are your options?
According to article 1719 of the Civil Code, “the lessor has the obligation to allow peaceful enjoyment of the leased property during the term of the lease”, continues Me Yves Honhon. “In other words, if the tenant demonstrates that the encroachment of the neighbour’s plants on the land causes him a disturbance in the enjoyment of the property, such as a lack of sunshine, or the impossibility of using the garden normally, he can ask his lessor to act with the neighbouring owner to put an end to the disturbance, or to demand that he himself cuts the parts of the plants which encroach on the garden. »
If your lessor does not follow up on your request, you can “give him formal notice to comply and if the formal notice remains without effect, he may summon it before the protection litigation judge, who has exclusive jurisdiction in residential leases”.
Or directly against your neighbour?
You have a second alternative. “The tenant can take legal action directly against the unscrupulous neighbouring owner on the basis of abnormal neighbourhood disturbance” , confirms Me Vincent Le Goc. “His quality of occupant of the property allows him this direct action. »
Clearly, even if you are a tenant, you are fully within your rights to settle the dispute in court directly with your neighbouring landlord, without going through your landlord. Even if nothing prevents you from notifying the latter of your legal action against your neighbour.
There, you can therefore seize “the President of the Judicial Court in summary proceedings, on the basis of article 835 of the Code of Civil Procedure” , reports Me Yves Honhon, “in order to condemn the neighbouring owner to put an end to the disturbance by any means, because it is manifestly unlawful”: And to add that you can ask that “this obligation to do be accompanied by a penalty payment in order to ensure the execution of the decision which will be rendered”