Two years ago, almost to the day we bought an old Charentaise longere to renovate with just under two hectares of land. We were going to live the dream at this property and for it to be our forever home. Unfortunately we did not do enough research before choosing the property and we have since totally renovated the property, sold it (for a decent profit) and are temporarily living in the same hamlet in the second home of some very good British friends. We are planning to move away from the Charente to another part of France and are currently going through the process of finding the next property.
Part of our experience of living in our hamlet for the last two years has been a very negative one. The problem is to do with noisy dogs and they have made life less than peaceful for much of the time we have been here. Our hamlet is only about ten houses and two of them are British owned and of the rest two are empty and the rest are French owned. Right in the centre of the hamlet is a house owned by a youngish French guy with his wife and two kids. He keeps “supposed” hunt dogs in a tiny enclosure in the yard at the back of his crumbling property. These dogs are never exercised as far as we are aware and are kept in appalling conditions. The land of the holiday home were we are currently staying borders the walled yard of the neighbour and his dog enclosure stinks of faeces and urine. The dogs are totally neglected and ill treated and we hear howling and barking even when there is a hunt on, so they are not used for the chasse.
When we started renovating our old property (Oct 2014) we mentioned the constant hours on end barking to our British neighbours and they said the guy was not very approachable and a not very nice character. So after enduring the noise for several weeks after arriving we contacted the mayor about the issue. We also spoke to some of our French neighbours but none would get involved or rock the boat by complaining.
Now you do expect to hear a bit of noise from barking dogs in “la France profonde”, however this was hours on end of loud barking, wailing, howling and anguish! Sometimes we would hear the dogs fighting amongst themselves. Thankfully we rarely heard the dogs at night as they were locked away
To cut a long story short, the mayor visited the man and he denied any problem. (The dogs don’t make much noise when he is at home). The mayor said there was nothing she could do. Problem went on for months and months and drove us nuts!! We wanted to have a small yurt camping area on our land (agreed by our mayor), but there was no way we could do this with such regular, loud and lengthy disturbance. Eventually we decided to contact the official mediator in the local town. We filed an official complaint and the guy was called into a meeting with us (quite stressful, especially when we realised the mediator and the guy seemed to know each other!!). Early in the year (April I think) he told the mediator that he was going to carry out works to the dog enclosure to sound proof it (not to take care of the dogs!!). This was official and in writing and he was given a deadline of the end of June 2016 to complete the works.
In short he has done nothing and the noise is as loud as ever. We contacted the mediator by email at the end of June stating nothing had been done and he said we would have to go to a tribunal in Angouleme to take things further. As this news came around the time we were going through the sale of the house to some Brits, we decided to leave things for a while. The noise did improve as the guy was unemployed and at home all day, hence the dogs were much quieter. However the last month or so it has returned with a vengeance. Now we have moved into our temporary accommodation and we are right next door to the problem.
I hate the fact that the guy has got away with doing nothing (plus the fact he doesn’t care and treats his dogs appallingly). I am sure the Brits who bought our old house will soon grow tired of the noise. It seems every time we step outside the house we hear those poor tortured dogs. Hopefully we will be moving away soon, once we have bought somewhere else and we won’t make the same mistake again.
What would you do if you were in the situation? Would you let it go and move on? We definitely don’t want the stress or possible cost of a tribunal but the problem has not gone away and we also feel for our lovely British friends who are lending us their house as they have to deal with the noise when they come out to stay in their house. It really has put a negative vibe into our time in the Charente as we moved here for peace and quiet!