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  • Respecting distances is always good; however to ensure good neighbourly relationships, it is not all! Problems can arise due to roots or branches, which have grown too much...

    No to nuisance!
    The rule is that even if you have complied with the planting regulations, you can still bother your neighbours, whom would then have a right to complain. Indeed, the rule states that even if you have the right to do something, you do not have the right to cause nuisance to others in doing so. Therefore, a court could condemn a tree that has grown too high and that causes too much shade to your neighbour even if the tree is planted more than 2 m. away from the boundary distance. However, the neighbour must provide proof of the nuisance. Otherwise, he could be condemned for abusive proceeding. There is no point getting to this stage: take the time to talk with your neighbour if things are not going well. Often, relationships turn sour because things are not said, or said with no diplomacy...

    Old branch or young shoot?
    Think about looking after your plants, in particular hedges. If they grow on your neighbour’s side, he is entitled to oblige you to prune them (at your expense). If they only trespass by a few centimeters, there is no problem. Nevertheless, do not wait until they grow too much! If we are talking about big branches, your neighbour might be tempted to cut them himself, in spite of the fact that the law forbids him to do it instead of you. If he cuts your tree without your agreement, he is in the wrong, even if the branches of the tree were growing on his side!
    If looking after your hedge cannot be done from your side of the boundary, you must ask your neighbour for what is called "right of access", that is to say the possibility of going on his property to maintain your hedge. This is not a right, unless there is a written agreement. Your neighbour is under no obligation to accept. He can also ask for a small payment to compensate for the inconvenience caused. Make him understand that the fact of going on his property in order to prune your hedge is in his interest, if you cannot do it from your side of the boundary. Small yet important details to ensure a bad impression is not created include not leaving any garden waste on your neighbour’s property, regardless of where you are pruning from. It is very unpleasant to have to get rid of somebody else’s garden waste on your own side of the garden!

    Annoying roots
    What is true of branches is not for roots: your neighbour does not need your agreement to cut the roots of your trees, if they grow on his side. He can however, force you to cut them at the limit of the boundary (on your side). Be careful with roots: if they cause any damage to your neighbour (damaging his foundations for example), you will be responsible... and the cost can be very high! To avoid any risk, you can plant an “anti root” barrier at the boundary, when planting hedges or trees. Dig it in deep (at least 1 m.). Roots will then stay on your side.
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  • Other rules
    Other rules
    Old branch or young shoot?
    Author: Jean-Michel Groult

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