Property Law

My next door neighbours (a young couple) bought their house which had no car parking space. Being a friendly neighbour (I believe in good neighbourly relationships) I allowed them to park their car on land I own which is in front of my workshop and which is dead opposite their front door on the other side of the road. This does not impact on my use of my workshop or the land in front of it.

After several years of them parking on my land I have become suspicious of the husband’s behaviour - he is more and more trying to take advantage of my good nature. He appears to know a lot about property law.

What I want to know is if after a number of years parking on my land could he claim some sort of a permanent right to park on my land? And if he decides to sell up could he include in the sale a permanent parking space on my land?

I have every intention of meeting up with the local notaire to discuss this, but before I do so I wonder if anyone has had any experience or knowledge about this sort of thing.

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How many years are we talking about ?

How is he trying to take advantage ?

This is “l’usucapion”, or prescriptive acquisition. Usually 30 years but on a case by case basis so could be as little as 10. It seems also to require that they behave like proprietors, so if he is doing bits of maintenance!

I’m not sure about the law in France - but ‘squatters rights’ do exist in most countries. However, it is highly unlikely that these would apply in your situation - generally they only apply to situations where the land owner hasn’t given permission, and only after many years of the use of the land (typically 30 years).

While I wait for @Bonzocat to reply to my questions …

I would suggest Bruce speaks with his Maire about the situation he finds himself in. More than likely, the neighbour is “flexing his muscles” but it might be an idea to close-off the land by some simple means and put a sign “propriété privé/ stationnement interdit” or whatever…(they are not expensive to buy at most big DIY stores etc.)

To do this correctly, Bruce needs to know exactly where he can place the string-wire or whatever and the Maire can keep him on the straight and narrow.

Put some enormous flowerpots with plants in them on your bit of land.

It may be though Stella that’s all that’s needed is clarification - simply setting out the situation in writing - including of course that permission to use the parking space can be withdrawn at any time for any reason. and not passed on to anybody else. Perhaps a notaire would write such a letter?

Geof - first thing is to speak with the Maire.

The owner of the land does not want to give or infer any rights whatsoever to the neighbour.

and… on researching his situation, I note that All the “legal advice” sites on the web advise against putting anything in writing.

I allow my neighbour to cross part of my land from time to time, although he does have another access. I have made it plain (in friendly fashion) that this does not confer rights and he agrees. Plus, I spoke with the Maire about it - and all is well.

Likewise there is an area outside/alongside our garage which folk had used to park… whenever. On more than one occasion this blocked our access. We spoke with the Mairie and explained why we were putting up a coloured link chain to guard our space. No problem. Just reminds folk that the land is private property.

However, when there are events in the village we often do offer the space to visitors (under supervision).

Thank you all for such quick responses. I’ve been out doing a lot of motor mowing and now find your messages.

Maybe I should explain further my situation. I have a good relationship with this couple because we are cat lovers. They have 5 cats and I have 10. My workshop, which has a large garden behind it, is where for a number of years I ran a cat association, taking in abandoned kittens, looking after injured cats and catching, neutering and releasing semi-wild and wild cats.

Because of this I have given him a key to my workshop because he said he would like to help with looking after any cats that may be in cages temporarily while they are getting better….and so on. I believed him

But he then started leaving for example a garden tool, a pickaxe or a pair of secateurs there without saying anything. I waited and later there were other things that belonged to him left without saying anything. This went on until I found one day he had parked his motor scooter there, again without saying anything. When I saw the scooter I immediately turfed everything he had left in my workshop with a great sense of anger. I considered this to have been an insidious and purposeful encroachment over time, taking advantage of my good nature.

Since then he has apologised and he continues to use the key to regularly fill the water bowl and food bowls for the semi wild cats that come and go using my workshop for food, water and somewhere to be in the winter.

But now I find he has stored wood burning logs in the garden behind my workshop and has started growing vegetables as well! He also has started leaving his scooter there as well again.

I’m not a confrontational sort of person and don’t want there to be a war! I much prefer cordial neighbourly relations. However I will have NO problem telling him to get lost!!! That’s not a problem.

His latest ploy was to ask if he could park his car on a different place on my land because he said birds keep pooping on his car. I told him it would make no difference – the new place he pointed out was still under a tree. He said that would be ok. This seemed so lame an excuse that I suspected he is being manipulative again.

He knows a lot about property law and it dawned on me that maybe in French law he would gain some sort of property rights over a period of years.

If property law doesn’t act in this way and he cannot gain rights over my land he can stay where he has been parking. His wife, who I believe owns the car and the house, is not a problem. She has had breast cancer recently, has regained her health and I have no problems with her. It’s the insidious, silent and controlling nature of her husband that is bothering me.

Just remembered, hadn’t noticed before, him saying nothing. My workshop is a bit ramshackle and part of a lean-to roof at the rear, not an important part of the workshop, was blown off recently in a storm. It wasn’t an imortant matter as far as I was concerned but he has made some sort of repair job, but he said nothing and it was only recently that I noticed it.

He is taking the P**s. :astonished: Act now!

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Thanks Tracy, I shall.

Isn’t it a sad world when someone, a next door neighbour, who you are trying to help takes deliberate advantage of you.

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It is entirely up to you - but, according to various websites - someone can acquire the rights to property if they start renovating etc etc. It’s obviously more complicated than that, but if you do NOT want to find yourself with an unwelcome co-owner - act now. Speak with the Maire and your neighbour. Get your neighbour to remove all his stuff and then you can relax. Unless you want him to continue to help you - ask for the key back as well.

On the face of it - you gave him a key, you accepted his presence, you have allowed him to work/store/whatever - he will acquire rights - you are handing them to him. (that is how it might be viewed in Law, so make your decision and act on it. )

Thanks Stella.

I have already rehearsed the words I shall say to him, which will include asking him to remove what he has placed in and around my workshop.

I shall also have words with monsieur le Maire!


Sounds exactly like l’usucapion to me…so agree it’s time to act. I hope you will be able to do it in such a way that you can maintain friendly relations!

Thanks Jane, had never heard of l’usucapion before, but I now know what it means. Thanks so much.

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Usucapion (définition) - Droit-Finances

Not good and so easy to do :fearful:

@Bonzocat I hope all this has been going-on less than 10 years !!!

After speaking with your Maire, you might well think about sending a letter to the neighbour, telling him to remove all his stuff immediately - send by recorded delivery (the one where you get proof that he has received/signed for it).

The Law can be a difficult/murky path sometimes and things have more chance of a happy-ending for you, if there is a document trail showing you are telling him to go.

The only thing that has been going on for a number of years Stella, but less than 10, is the one parking space. That doesn’t bother me. All the other stuff is also less than 10 years.

My neighbour doesn’t usually surface until early evening and he hasn’t been round to see me for anything for a very long time. He doesn’t appear to have a job, or even want a job. He says he’s an artist, but I’ve never seen any artwork. However, as I expected he came round just now with wide innocent eyes and asked if I was OK. He wouldn’t ordinarily do that. He has sensed that I have been moving all his stuff - he lives opposite my workshop and I’m sure he has been watching. I shifted everything of his right to just inside my workshop door.

I told him I wasn’t OK and for him to remove everything he has placed in and around my workshop and that later on I want my keys back. I said he knew exactly what was going on and then I shut my door.

He knocked again straight away and said he didn’t understand what the problem was, again with wide open innocent eyes. I told him he knew perfectly well what was going on with raised voice. He didn’t flinch, still looking innocent. People who don’t flinch or blink or raise their eyebrows when confronted and insist on discussing the matter means to me someone with a controlling attitude.

I looked through the window and he was just standing there not going away and then he knocked again but I didn’t bother. He then went away. This is the second time I’ve had to do this, to ask him to remove everything. There won’t be a third time.

On the very odd occasion when he has asked permission to do something it was always with a rushed whining voice as if he resented having to ask.

Will wait to see what happens. Thanks for your concern.

Get real, get the logs that are his and chuck them on his property. In no uncertain terms tell him that his behaviour is unacceptable.
This is clearly and quite rightly upsetting you, we can all see that you are a kind and gentle soul.
Take legal advice and get this situation sorted- there are a lot of people that once you stand up for yourself will actually respect you and back off.
Do yourself a favour…who needs friends (or neighbours) like that ?