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Right of Way Over Property


David G

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Does anyone know the law on established rights of way in France?

Our french farmhouse in the Puy-De-Dome department is situated at the end of 1km track which is marked privee no right of way at the start of the track (just off from the main road). The house itself sits in grounds of 1/4 acre and is then surrounded by the local farmer's cow fields on all sides with a cattle shed butted up against our fence on one side of the property.

On our first stay at the property we were waken early by the farmer driving his cattle truck up our private track accross our front garden and then through a gate into his cow field. He then proceeded to herd some of his cows into our front and back garden with the intention of herding some cows into the sheds which are then loaded into his cattle truck headed for the market.

Our local marie has spoken to him on several occassions to explain that the land is private and requested that he builds and access to his cattle shed around the other side of the field so he does not need to go through our garden. This has resulted in some heated discussions with the farmer who refuses to do this and continues to use our garden as he see fits.

It is quite clear that he has been herding cattle into the garden for some considerable time therefore I would be interested to know what the legal position is on his right of way over our graden.

 

 

 

 

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How irritating to have your stay in the country disturbed by a farmer who actually works there: and early in the morning too.

Perhaps you could ask the cows not to be too demanding first thing?

I don't know the legal position, but common sense tells me that insisting on it too much  might not be the best way of integrating into an agricultural community.

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[quote user="David G"]

Does anyone know the law on established rights of way in France?

It is quite clear that he has been herding cattle into the garden for some considerable time therefore I would be interested to know what the legal position is on his right of way over our graden.

[/quote]

Your notaire is the best person to answer this question, as he will be, or should be, familiar with the area.

Sue

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I think perhaps suein56 means the Mairie as there is no way of knowing whether your Notaire is familiar with the area or not, he may live many km away in a totally different commune.

You say this was your first stay in the property so are we to assuming that you have only recently purchased it. If there is a legally established right then it should be a matter of

record and should have been disclosed during the purchase so was anything said about servitudes or rights of way. The fact that your Mairie supports you and has spoken to the farmer suggests that no right exists but he has become accustomed to using the route unchallenged. Has the property been unoccupied for some time. To acquire a right he would have had to have been doing this for 30

years I think, is that possible. Did the previous owners permit it. Did you not see any evidence of this during pre purchase visits, it sounds like it would have been pretty obvious.

Does the lane belong to you or the commune? If it's yours then I can't see that has any right to even enter or use it which, by definition, means he would not traverse your garden either.

In the interests of a quiet peaceful life and being accepted in the community clearly your best course of action would be settle this as amicably as possible and I would suggest a first step towards that would be to seek a meeting between the 2 of you and the Mairie and try to sort it out. If he is unwilling to desist then unfortunately I think your only recourse might be legal action but that would be both expensive and very drawn out, I'm talking possibly years, and with no guarantee of a positive outcome.

A more confrontational stance would be to erect a fence or gate or whatever to physically prevent him from entering your property without causing damage and if he did then call the Gendarmes but there would be little going back from that though so I would urge you consider it only as a very last resort, and then only if you are absolutely sure of your position.

Bonne chance

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Ernie et al have covered most points, I think. Except did you put up the notice saying "chemin privé" or whatever? Or was it already there?

There are 2 examples like yours in our commune, where property owners try to stop people coming past. One of them has 2 fierce dogs to reinforce her point.

But people keep risking it and going past.

However the farmer with the cows is a much bigger nuisance, especially as he owns all the surrounding land. Is there an alternative route he could use?

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From my own experience the notion of private property is not understood or respected by those that have been using or want to use it. They cannot be prosecuted only if they damage something in the process so Ernies suggestion of a fence or gate is a wise one.

My property had been derelict for several years before I moved in and people had been using the land as a car park, dumping ground, drink and drugs parlour and to gain illegal access to the tennis court behind and most of the rendered surfaces had a covering inches deep thanks to the fly posters, the surfaces that trhey couldnt stick to the taggers had decorated.

It has been a very slow battle but I am gradually winning but at first people point blank refused to give up what they saw as their right despite the fact that I was then living their full time. The notion of private property and the signs that I put up were just not comprehended.

Word spread around fairly quickly after I clamped a couple of cars and the Gendarmes were called but it was I that risked prosecution. but the biggest difference that I have made is to stamp my ownership on th place by redeveloping the entire exterior, changing the facade and all other wall finishes, block paving the car park even renovating and refinishing the adjacent EDF substation building, - no fly-posting or tagging to date.

It would appear that when somewhere is run down and no pride is shown in it, then people feel that it is theirs to use as they wish, they will park or dump on what looks like a waste land area but (touch wood) not a surfaced and maintained area.

MY biggest problem was, and still is in fact, close neighbours whom I made the mistake of allowing put their rubbish bins alongside mine.

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[quote user="NormanH"]How irritating to have your stay in the country disturbed by a farmer who actually works there: and early in the morning too.
Perhaps you could ask the cows not to be too demanding first thing?
I don't know the legal position, but common sense tells me that insisting on it too much  might not be the best way of integrating into an agricultural community.
[/quote]

I missed the irony at first , Norman [:D] On second thoughts, "Very true sir" as Jeeves said to Wooster.

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I dont know the legal answer either, but if I had just moved to a new house that is entirely surrounded by a farmers land, I would be doing my very utmost not to p1ss that farmer off, but to find an amicable solution.

A farmer with a grudge has thousands of perfectly legal ways to make your life there a complete misery.

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David G - you need to go back to your Notaire and check whether the farmer has any legal right of way (servitude) through your property. If there is, it should've been flagged up at the compromis stage, and there is little you can do about it apart from trying to persuade the farmer to change the access (at your expense?).

Did the farmer sell you the house? I'm just asking as you say that the gate to the field is in your garden. Why? Is there no other access to the field apart from through your garden?

Discuss all this with the Notaire (both of ours were extremely helpful with niggling problems after our purchases) as he/she may help out. You could ask the Notaire if he'll act as a mediator if there isn't a servitude, and get a meeting arranged so that the matter can be sorted out as amicably as possible, or, as someone else suggested, the Maire. If you have no luck going down the "friendly" route, speak to the Gendarmes but only as a last resort. As Dave says, farmers have all sorts of ways to make life sh*t for you, and you really don't want that.

Our farming neighbour has a right of way to his beef farm which is just past our house at the bottom of our lane. It's of no problem to us as a) he very, very rarely uses the lane for access to his farm (there are two other entrances); b) the lane is at the front of the house and we tend to live in the back so wouldn't hear or see him if he did use it, and c) he's very well liked in our village, and we have always got on really well with him. But....if he ever brought his cows into my garden.................!!

Good luck David.

Afterthought - you could try bribing him with a bottle of good malt whisky.

 

 

 

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  • 5 months later...

The farmer did not sell us the house and we have been back to our Notaire who confirms that he has no legal right of way over the garden. We have tried to keep things civil with the farmer at the moment but the last time we at the property the bull had crashed through the fence on our boundary and prompltly died on our front garden.

The farmland is actually owned by the local hospital and it is our intention to buy the framland once it comes available - basically when the framer dies.

looks like we need to sit this one out - anyway he bought us a bottle of his local brew the last time we were there, apparently he is the only one in the area who has a licence to brew alcohol

 

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