what you have the right to do without disturbing your neighbors

what you have the right to do without disturbing your neighbors

The garden can be a source of conflict between neighbors. To stay on good terms, it is better to know to what extent you can mow your lawn, barbecue, raise chickens, or even pick your neighbor’s fruit if the branches of the tree stick out in your house …

Owning your home and its exterior doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want within the boundaries of your property. As the garden is the source of many neighborhood conflicts, it is important to know and respect all the rules (law, municipal decree, public health code, co-ownership regulations, etc.) which may apply.

And be careful: even if these rules are respected, a neighbor can, in certain cases, complain of an abnormal neighborhood disturbance and receive damages for the damage caused.

What is an “abnormal neighborhood disturbance”?

An abnormal neighborhood disorder is an act caused by a person, or by the things or animals for which he is responsible, which, by its frequency, duration, or intensity, constitutes a nuisance causing harm to people in the same proximity area.

The neighbor affected by the disturbance can then bring an action and seek compensation, even if the regulations have been respected and the author of the disturbance was not at fault.

Example: dead leaves falling from a neighbor’s tree invading a terrace and preventing the proper flow of water can constitute an abnormal neighborhood disturbance.

To note : Before any legal proceedings, however, it is essential to get closer to your neighbor to find an amicable solution, condition of admissibility of any legal action.

So what can you do without risking disturbing your neighbors, what are the situations that can pose a problem? Here are some very concrete examples.

Are there times when I need to use my mower?

Yes. The maintenance of green spaces and DIY activities (mower, chainsaw, electric saw, plant shredder, etc.) are governed by municipal or prefectural decrees which regulate gardening and DIY activities. To stay on track, find out about the days and times allowed.

Can I burn my plants in my garden?

No. Unless there is an exemption, it is forbidden to burn green waste in the open air (dead leaves, pruning residues, lawn mowing, etc.) under pain of a fine of up to € 450. It is simply possible to grind them in the vegetable shredder, or to bring them to the recycling center.

Your neighbor can here initiate an action for abnormal neighborhood disturbance based on odor nuisance.

Can I use my barbecue?

Yes, but not intensively or over a long period of time. Indeed, its use must remain occasional at the risk that the nuisances caused by the barbecue (blackening, projections of ash, odors …) constitute an abnormal neighborhood disturbance.

Can I let tree branches hang over my neighbor’s house?

No. As part of the maintenance obligation, you must prune your trees (article 673 of the civil code).

If you refuse to do the pruning, your neighbor can take you to court. Be careful, your neighbor, even bothered by your tree, cannot cut it down except with your permission.

Good to know: forbidden fruits

Your neighbor has the right to collect fruits that have fallen naturally from the branches of your tree on their land (article 673 of the civil code). Be careful, he is not allowed to pick those which are still on the tree, even if the branch protrudes over his garden. He is also not allowed to shake the branches of your tree to cause the fruits to fall on his property.

Can I raise chickens?

Yes, for your personal consumption. However, you must respect the rules of hygiene (article L 214-1 of the rural code) and those applicable in your municipality (depending on the size of the henhouse, a prior declaration or a building permit may be required). Attention, raising chickens can constitute an abnormal disturbance of neighborhood by too strong odors or excessive noise.

Good to know: neighborhood and noise

Article R 1334-31 of the Public Health Code: “No particular noise [musique, bricolage, animaux…] must not, by its duration, its repetition or its intensity, affect the tranquility of the neighborhood or the health of man, in a public or private place, that a person is himself at the origin or whether it be through a person, a thing in their care or an animal placed under their responsibility “.

In other words, a noisy neighbor can thus have the source of the noise confiscated (dog, hi-fi system, lawn mower, etc.) and incur a third class fine, i.e. a maximum fine of € 450 (article R 1337 -7 of the CSP).

Can I plant a hedge at the property line?

No. Trees and shrubs must be planted 2 meters back from the dividing line when they exceed 2 meters in height, 50 cm if they are less than two meters (article 671 of the civil code). Please note that different local rules may apply here.

If the plantings do not respect the distances, the neighbor can demand that they be pulled up or reduced to the correct height.

Also note: even if the plantation respects the distances, an abnormal neighborhood disturbance can be formed (loss of sunlight, risk of falling trees …).

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