top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
Explore
arrow down

What can we do about our neighbour's deafening woodcutter?

When a neighbour situation goes above and beyond 'normal' behaviour, it is best to make contact informally but legal steps can be taken

Reader question: Every year during summer my neighbour splits wood for the winter using a machine, just a few metres from our home. The noise and fumes are intolerable. What is the legal situation with regard to this? 

This kind of problem is referred to in French law as un trouble anormal de voisinage and covers situations such as annoying noise, smells or the spoiling of a view by a neighbour which is above and beyond “normal” behaviour.

It should be something which is “abnormal” by its repetitive nature, intensity or duration. Some communes also have bylaws banning certain noises at specific times, such as use of a mower.

You would need to check this at the mairie and, if the neighbour is violating a bylaw, inform them. They should enforce the law – for example, with a visit by the municipal police and a fine.

In a copropriété building, such as a block of flats, it is also advisable to check the rules of the building on acceptable noise and alert the syndic if a neighbour is failing to comply, as it is part of its job to enforce the rules.

Informal approaches are advised at first – speaking to the neighbour and sending a letter. You can send this recommandée avec avis de réception, recorded delivery post, to have proof of sending and delivery.

You could try mediation using the free conciliateur de justice service. You may also alert the municipal or national police or gendarmerie, who can enforce a fine (€68 if paid quickly, rising to €180) if they visit and note the noise.

You could also pay a huissier, a legal officer, who can visit to make an official record of the situation, which will be useful in case of the last resort – going to court. You can find English-speaking huissiers by clicking Recherche avancée at Annuaire des Huissiers de Justice. The fee for this is typically over €200.

If going to court, you would apply to the nearest tribunal judiciaire. A judge could order the person to stop making the noise and/or award you payment of damages.

Relates stories

French village installs ‘countryside sounds’ sign

Brittany: Homebuyers sign contracts accepting country life

Is it legal for neighbour to keep 16 dogs in French garden?

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now