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Restriction of an established right of way


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My wife & I own a 200 year old house with barns & orchard in Western France.

One of our barns is open & has been used for vehicle parking it is accessed over land that previously belonged to our property but was sold by the former owner  to a french farmer several years ago. Access was never a problem & he recognised that access to the barn was historic.

He has recently sold the land to a Brit. Our Notaire confirms that we have an established right of way although nothing exists on the legal documents. The new Brit owners have emailed & confirmed to us that our right of way will be respected but rumours in the village have been rife for some while that they intent to erect a wall to prevent our access.Yesterday a temporary barrier was erected to allow the erection of a wall.

We live in the UK but I have today emailed & phoned the Notaire & emailed the Brits but so far I have not had any response.

Can anyone advise me on the best course of action, can a notice be served by me, the Notaire or French Lawyer to stop the works until the matter is resolved?

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I would have thought that a 'servitude de passage'  should have been written into the acte authentique at the time of the sale of the land.

I don't know what else constitutes 'an established right of way' . Can you explain (with the French terms) ?

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I suggest your first point of call should be to contact your new neighbours and check the situation with regards their granting right of way and what consequences their new construction will have on that agreement.


Once you have that and the answer to the question already posed about the AdV then we can start to advise.


Rushing into legal process (which once started seems to be impossible to stop) is a route to an empty bank account.

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Having had some personal experience of servitudes with my own property I agree with both Norman and Andy.

Generallyl, if it has been in undisputed use for 30 years, then it becomes a right of way and cannot be changed without court proceedings. In those circumstances it's possible that there is no actual paperwork appertaining to it although you would still expect it to be mentioned on the AdV.

It's also worth noting that if there is no other means of access you cannot 'enclave' a parcel of land, regardless of what is used for.

As andy says, you should avoid legal proceedings if at all possible as not only will it be expensive but also very slow and drawn out - a minimum of 2 years as a starting point I would say from my own case - during which time your new neighbours will not be able to erect their wall anyway so they should have as much interest in settling the issue quickly and amicably as you. Mine was ongoing when we bought BTW so the costs were down the seller.

How do you know the temporary barrier is a prelude to the wall going up anyway ?

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Art 692 may well apply in your case.

The english translation needs to be read with the original french.

La destination du père de famille vaut titre à l'égard des servitudes continues et apparentes.

Adjustment made by the owner is equivalent to an instrument of title as to continuous and apparent servitudes.

The crucial expression is "la destination du père de famille".

There would be no breach or hindrance in the "jouissance" of the servitude if for example a wall was built with a gate and you were given a key; indeed the routing of the access could be modified.

Assuming that vehicules accessed the barn to park before and after the sale of the land over which access was made THEN a servitude would have existed from the moment the sale took place and would be self generating and therefore not requiring either an acte authentique or 30 years.


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