Reader question: We own a second home near Béziers. Our neighbour transferred his car repair business from a commercial zone to his private residence in our housing estate. He has no registered business and we wrote to our mayor with our concerns. There is noise, smells, and health and safety issues with this firm in a residential area. The mayor said he could not do anything. Do you have advice? F.K.
There are two issues here: the unregistered, possibly illegally situated, business, and the nuisance from noise and smells.
The mairie would, usually, be a first port of call for these issues, but you say yours was uncooperative.
We would, nonetheless, suggest writing formally to the mairie, using a lettre recommandée avec avis de reception (LRAR – registered post, with receipt slip).
Otherwise, with regard to the nuisance, the first avenues would usually be attempting to find a solution with the neighbour by sending them a LRAR, and possibly calling on a free mediation service (conciliateur de justice).
Finally, you could take the neighbour to court. It might help to pay a huissier to take an official note of the circumstances and/or to seek advice from an avocat (lawyer).
Whether the latter is essential depends on the court used and level of compensation that may be involved (it is obligatory in the tribunal judiciaire for matters over €10,000).
Read more: How can I obtain free law advice in France?
The undeclared business is probably not paying its social charges and the activity may also not be allowed in the area. Starting a trade in a residential area may be subject to permission from the mairie, especially if customers are being received. Other than to the mairie, you could denounce this to:
- The inspection de travail (local officials concerned with working rules);
- Local branch of Urssaf (concerned with collecting social security contributions);
- Anti-fraud body DGCCRF