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Can I challenge a neighbour's extension plan in France?

Sarah Bright-Thomas of Bright Avocats answers a reader query on what a property owner can do if they disagree with a neighbour's new extension 

A 100% legal permis de construire which meets all town planning and technical requirements can still be challenged in the courts Pic: Zakhar Mar / Shutterstock

Reader question: What can I do if neighbours’ new extension blocks the sun?

Planning permissions in France are different from those in the UK, in that town halls do not give as much weight to societal factors, such as the loss of light on neighbouring properties.

But a 100% legal permis de construire which meets all town planning and technical requirements can still be challenged in the courts.

Obvious cases are when an extension leads to overlooking of a private garden, or has a window facing a bathroom window. Legal action can also be taken for a detrimental loss of light.

It is a risk, as the cost of hiring an avocat and paying a huissier and later a court-appointed expert is paid upfront – although some household insurance packs include legal help.

Before talking to an avocat you should prepare a solid file, with before and after photographs showing the extent of shading, and statements from members of the household about the loss of light, for example.

You could get a huissier to record the shade thrown by the extension and even seek an estimate of the loss of value to your property.

The avocat will decide whether to proceed to a tribunal court. Winning can mean financial compensation, with one recent case leading to a €54,000 payment, and in rare cases even an order for demolition.

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