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Rules for height of hedges on boundary


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My neighbour has asked me to cut my trees which are on the border of our properties.  I want to accommodate her but before doing anything too drastic I would like to know what my responsibilities are.

We have a chainlink fence between our properties which is about 1.5 metres high.  The blank north-facing wall of her single storey house is probably exactly 2 metres from this.  Shielding her house from our view are a variety of trees and shrubs along the whole 20/25 metre length of her house and about 10m wide.

The best information I have found in this forum is

- There should be a 1 metre space between my trees/shrubs and the boundary for me to maintain them.

- Any tree or shrub with a height greater than 2m in adulthood (not the day

of planting ...) should be planted at least 2m from the property line

  This does'nt explain the situation after the tree has grown and spread out towards the property line.

What about our lovely mature arbousier (strawberry tree) which is a good 5m high and whose trunk is barely 1m from the fence?  Would it be sufficient to cut it back so that none of the branches extend within 1m of the boundary?

What about trees whose trunks are more than 2m from the boundary whose branches go up to or beyond the boundary?

We have four pines whose trunks are about 1m from the fence.  They probably originally formed part of a hedge which was never tamed and are bald for the first 2 metres, so I am happy to cut these down.

We have always been on good terms with this neighbour during the 11 years we have lived here.  She has lived here for more than 40 years.  Until now her husband has been happy to cut back the growth to the border line and there has never been any suggestion that  this is a problem, but he is now of an age where this is too much for him and we fully understand this.  We have recently put our house on the market and want to resolve this properly.

Any views would be appreciated.


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  • 2 weeks later...
Did you sort this out?  I was going to answer it when you first put the question up but I thought someone with expert knowledge might come along!

Anyway, in my experience you're supposed to trim existing trees and bushes if they go over your boundary onto the neighbour's property and they're not allowed to trim it without your permission - but I'm not sure about any encroachment on their light and don't know if a right to light exists in France.

What exactly are they complaining about?

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[quote user="Debra"] but I'm not sure about any encroachment on their light and don't know if a right to light exists in France.


There is no right to light existing in France but there can be a right to a view if one existed prior to the errection of a fence or hedging and providing the view is a view and not the local cement works etc.

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Thank you all for your responses.  The problem has not been resolved, but I think (hope) I am getting there.

I have had the chainsaw out and cleared away most of the stuff which was encroaching next door and I have arranged for a gardener to cut down the pine trees which I have to say were looming over their property.

The lady next door came into my garden last week and gave me some magazine cuttings and leaflets which she seemed to think explained the position, but they all related to the the special emergency measures which have been introduced in designated "at risk" areas following the disastrous forest fires along the coast in Provence.  Rather than wind her up more than she is already I borrowed them for a few days and then returned them to her saying that they were very helpful and that a gardener is coming this week to do the heavier work for me without specifying exactly what that is.

It is obvious that this is vague area where responsibilites vary in different regions and communes.  The best place to get information should be the local mairie, but even that is not certain.  A lot of myths abound, for example, my neighbour probably glanced at the papers she gave me and saw lots of stuff about brushing and chopping down trees without reading the words which said in what situations these rules apply.  Or maybe she did but thought I might not.

For the moment I am sure that the work I am having done will improve the situation beyond what it has been for many years and there will be nothing overhanging their land.  The husband next door is clearly uncomfortable about the atmosphere this has caused and I am sure he will be happy with the result.  I don't want to risk a confrontation - a quiet chat over a cup of tea or glass of wine does'nt work in the Midi where they leap out of their prams as a first move in negotiation.

We'll see.  If I learn anything tangible I'll keep you posted.


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