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Surprise bornage

Tony F Dordogne

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We have new neighbours, Parisienne, who have bought the vaguely adjoining house for a maison secondaire.

Our previous neighbours, lovely people tho they are, did nothing in the garden/woods as a result of which the whole place became overgrown - one of the reasons I got the information about hedges etc.  The result is we have 'their' trees over our garden, a box hedge which is 5 meters high and all overgrowing etc etc.

On Saturday I received a letter and tear off slip from a geometre, telling me he was visiting on 12th November to mark out the neighbours plots and that he wants access to our land, wants an amicable agreement, looks forward to my co-operation, wants to see our legal stuff from the cadastre etc etc.

Now I didn't know the new neighbours were going to do this.  They speak good English and my French is up to a conversation on boundaries, they have relatives locally who visit regularly, cutting down trees etc.  But nothing in advance of this letter.

I've looked at the boundaries on the cadastre, been to the Mairie previously about this (boundary marked by a very ancient wall so immovable) just a bit surprised to get this letter out of the blue.

So do I sign up? As I have nothing to hide and it may be to my advantage, so long as the newbies cut their hedges, their bloody trees which rain acorns all over our garden and grow oaklets in every nook and cranny or do I just let him arrive without returning the form, offer him/her coffee, smile, give them access, show them our paperwork etc.  There's nothing on the form to indicate anything untoward but I don't want to get into any sort of a wrangle by signing something that then jumps up and bites me in the bum - like what is an amicable agreement, didn't even know we have a DISAGREEMENT!

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I have no idea and no experience so

these are my thoughts:

When I am unsure about signing

something I don't - instead I write a letter saying (e.g. in your

case) that the visit will be fine and you will be available and

access will be no problem. Also maybe commenting that you will try

and turn-out the plans, etc. That way you have signed nothing

official, agreed only to what you state in the letter, been pleasant

and cooperative, etc.

Does the geometre establish ownership

of boundaries (e.g. who has responsibility for maintaining walls,

etc. as well as the actual boundaries ?

Personally, with new neighbours such a

letter would surprise me and I would have expected them to mention

something in advance (but they are Parisians). Could be their main

concern is one of the boundaries not adjoining you property - might

be worth checking with their other neighbours.

(Just thoughts, not experience nor



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Do your new neighbours have boundaries adjoining other properties as well?  It's fairly common to request a geometre to mark boundaries after buying a house, if any are unclear.  He will mark out the boundaries on each side of their land, so it may not necessarily be your land that is in "dispute".

We had exactly the same thing a few months ago, and we were pretty pleased, as we got our boundary marked out free of charge.

EDIT: my post crossed with Ian's.

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We both adjoin other properties but it's all ancient woodland, can't be built on etc etc so apart from KNOWING what's their property and where the boundaries are, which of course they're entitled to do, seems a bit of a pointless exercise.  Although we're surrounded by woodland, we know all the other owners, whether in this commune or not, and we can even use our other neighbours land to park on, with their permission of course.

Think I'll ring the office rather than write, look forward to meeting you next week, papers will be available etc etc.

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I wonder if the intention is to fence their boundary completely?  I am considering getting in a geometre as whilst I know where the boundary is (roughly) if I am going to pay money to fence the plot completely (no small task) then I want to be sure that it is absolutely correct and that when I put in the required plans of the cloture to the Maire I can also say as per the geometre markings.

Just a thought, I would also imagine that the letter from the geometre is fairly standard and that most of the time the poor person is called in when there is a dispute to resolve so has to tread carefully.


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Well the Geometre is working for both parties. The Parisiennes maybe have not mentioned it because they are in Paris and have decided to get the boundary established at the time of purchase just to clarify the deeds etc.

Although a little different, we bought land next door to our house and the neighbour called in the Geometre to mark it out and all was done very amicably. Indeed it was probably one of the conditions of purchase.

Panda said "Just a thought, I would also imagine that the letter from the geometre is fairly standard and that most of the time the poor person is called in when there is a dispute to resolve so has to tread carefully."

I too suspect the form is  just a formality and a way of making an appointment with you.

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They can't go ahead without your signature on the bit of paper.

If you don't sign it they will have to  go to court, in order to overcome your deemed objection.

The most important thing is to agree how much of the costs you will be expected to pay.In the absence of any agreement the costs are split 50 / 50.



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Be very careful!

I am also in the middle of a boundary question; in this case it is between us and the commune.

What is very interesting to me, is that no one actually knows where our land finished and the commune's land commences!

All sorts of wild and wonderful theories have been flying about; none of them very helpful!

In fact I employed a local gèometré, who was pretty useless. He didn't do what he contracted to do on his devis: merely assumed the boundary was "Ici"!

You do mention in your post that there is an ancient wall which seems to divide your land and the new neighbour's; in which case why does this guy need access to your land?

I have now been to the commune and examined their copy of the cadastral plan: unearthed the Act de Vente, on which the absolute plot size is delineated; visited the Impôt and obtained a copy of the key cadastral plan and later this week when over, am taking my sparkling new 50 metre surveyor's tape for some serious measuring up!

Unfortunately, as we gave the geo coffee - as one does - and sat chatting, his eyes were all over the house; and he said what a splendid house it was; and then went on to utter those magic words, "Of course, all les anglaise are very wealthy from selling their houses!".

At which point alarm bells were ringing: and my suspicions were confirmed, when a bill arrived for the first visit: with a further Devis for over four times as much; to in fact do what he was contracted to do on the first devis! Which he simply hadn't completed!

In your case, I would want to know more: far more, before getting into something which on the face of it is one sided.

My reading of the situation is that your new neighbours are planning some sort of land grab: not uncommon in France. And the reason they have not had the courtesy of speaking to you or at least writing to you is they know their action towards you is hostile.

OK, call me suspicious: I don't care! Broad shoulders and thick skin, me.

Final question: why do you need to sign anything? You are not instructing this guy; your neighbours are. The geo is not an official figure; he is a professional acting for his client/s not you. He has no absolute right to go anywhere on your land, without your permission.

Resist until someone has the grace and courtesy to explain what their gameplan is!


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We bought the barn attached to our house and a couple of small plots of adjoining land from our neighbours a few years ago and the notaire arranged for the geometre to mark the boundaries out. It was just a formality and our neighbours had, of course, been informed.

As we are living in a small hamlet and our other neighbours have land which adjoins our garden and also the plots we were buying, everyone walked, and agreed on, where the new bornes would be placed.

Then the neighbours and the geometre came and had a coffee (and an animated discussion, most of which was lost on me) in our kitchen afterwards.

The cost to us was 400 euros for four bornes, and was not shared with our neighbours (the vendors) as we were responsible for all fees.
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I know there are often disputes in Italy in wooded areas - such as who has access to the wood for burning; wild mushrooms;hunting;chestnuts etc.

Maybe this is what they have in mind?

Perhaps they want to use the woods for breeding 'wild' boar or pigs???? Oink oink ( now how do they say that in French????)

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[quote user="Gluestick"]

My reading of the situation is that your new neighbours are planning some sort of land grab: not uncommon in France. And the reason they have not had the courtesy of speaking to you or at least writing to you is they know their action towards you is hostile.


Whilst I agree with 'some' of what gluestick says, assuming the neighbours are planning a land grab is a bit much, if I instruct a gemoetre it will be simply to ensure everything is as it should be, I don't want any more land, so why assume this person is doing that? 

Best ofr all if you get in touch with the new neighbour and ask them the question.

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I'm a simple soul at heart.

If these new neighbours were so concerned about where the absolute boundaries and/or ownership of the land which they have recently bought lie, surely, the time to have had a survey was prior to signing the Acte de Vente and prior to the details being lodged with the Cadastral office?

If I were to be purchasing land with undefined boundaries, one of the first things I'd want confirming was where the absolute boundaries lay: or I would not know what I was buying!

At the very least, as the newcomers, surely it would be a simple courtesy for them to have firstly contacted adjoining land owners to inform them of what they were planning and why?

I am inately suspicious of anyone who acts in this way, without adhereing to the usual protocols and cannons of normal behaviour: if one has nothing to hide, then why act in isolation?

Disputes over boundaries have been going on all over the globe for many centuries!


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[quote user="Russethouse"]Tony, I think its important to make sure whether or not you are expected to pay for this (unwanted by you) service.[/quote]

Agreed but my reaction would be "you asked for him so you pay him, I already know where my boundaries are" - befoire he arrives.



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Has anybody bothered to read the links I posted earlier.

Anyone has the right to establish the bornes of their property  by instructing a geometre.

Before they can proceed they must have eithe the neighbour's written permission or an order from the court.

I don't see the point of getting on the wrong side of anyone by acting awkward or forcing them to go to court.

If you don't do otherwise you will automatically be charged half the fees for your boundary.

I would write giving your agreement, as long as the costs are charged to the persons requesting the measuring.




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We had something very similar at the beginning of the year.

We agreed to the bornage as the party who asked for it pays the costs. They are only asking you to help with access to your land to measure etc.

When they have finished you will get another letter asking you to agree the new/existing boundaries. That will be the one you need to check carefully.

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Just read this post and would like to join in. This afternoon the owners of a strip of land adjoining the bottom of our garden, knocked on our door to ask if we would like to buy it.To cut a long story short we showed a little interest but said it depended on the price.It's about 1000 square metres in all.Nothing can be done with the land but it would enlarge and square off our garden.They are going to instruct someone to come and measure the land and mark the boundary.( sorry can't remember the proper name)

My question is, as there are differing answers on this thread, what would we have to pay for apart from the actual price of the land.

Do we have to pay some of the measuring of the boundary costs, as we might not buy the land anyway if the price is too much. 

I presume notaires fees to be paid by us.

ps  We had shown interest previously to another neighbour, who has then been in touch with the owners, that we'd be interested in renting this land but the owners have refused. If we want it we must buy it.


Thanks for any replies



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You will need to

  • First agree a price for the land with your neighbour and decide who will pay the Geometre and who will pay for and construct new fences
  • Next instruct a Notaire to act for both parties, you can have one each if you like they will share the fees
  • Get the land measured and marked and bornes put in by a Geometre before the sale goes through
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Back in the 70s, we too were slightly alarmed to get a letter from a géomètre about a neighbours' intended "bornage", and being invited to be present.  French friends assured us that it was nothing to worry about.

The letter told us when it was to be, and invited us (and all other neighbours with contiguous property) to be present.  It was very useful.  First the surveyors look for any earlier markers - in our case, some were like those pyramidal goat's cheeses, only made of concrete, and absolutely buried under ivy and undergrowth.  Where there are not any, they measure up everything against the "plan cadastral" and put in new markers - usually garish orange plastic today.  

Where there was any dispute, it was possible to agree things on the spot with everyone present.  One neighbour had a cherished fruit tree that had over the years leant over and sort of butted into the new neighbours' garden.  No problem: the geometre just redrew the cadastral plan to incorporate a slight wiggle that ensured the leaning tree was officially part of their garden.
On our own shared boundary, it was found that the new neighbour would have had no room to drive round into his yard unless he had a little wedge of our land. This was traded off against a little wedge against our kitchen window, which we had always assumed was ours, and had planted up with things. Thereafter it truly *was* ours. [:)]

It didn't cost us a bean.  The new neighbours paid it all.

There was nothing sinister about it.  It was just the new neighbours wanting to know exactly where their limits lay - eventually they built a fence to keep their dogs contained.


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Dropped by the Mairie on Wednesday and she knew all about it.  Apparently she was told before us and she offered to be present on Monday to protect everybody's interests.  Of course, I accepted, politically, don't want to upset her and she's been a good friend to us so no problem there.

Checked for previous demarkation lines and can't see anything.  But for sure, the neighbour is going to have lots of trees and shrubs to cut down because I also discussed the content of my hedge paper/information with her and she agrees that not only will he have to cut back between us but the hedges which face the chemin rurale on which we live will have to be seriously cut back - they're only about 6 meters high and completely swamp the telephone/electricity lines.

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Well, it happened and was most uneventful.  No land grabs of any sort though we seem to have ended up with an additional strip of land about 50 meters longs and between two and three meters wide, which is fine.

Long discussions with the new neighbour about cutting down trees and the overgrown hedges which will suit us both just fine - and somebody else has paid for us getting defined boundaries on one side of our propertyy so all in all, a good morning.

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