Right to light?

We are having some changes made to the kitchen windows (previously glass bricks - very cold and hideous) which will now become wooden windows - but with frosted glass - so we do not overlook the neighbour’s garden. Planning permission was granted by the Mairie.
However, the neighbour does not like this (and has not spoken to me about it, only the builder) and has now put up solid screens directly in front of both windows removing nearly all light.

Is this allowed? Is there any right to light?

You should go and speak with your Maire.

I do not think there is any right to light - but your neighbour will probably/possibly be restricted on the height of any barrier he puts up.

As I say - speak with folk at your Mairie.

(It’s shame to have such happenings between neighbours. Have you tried discussing all this with said neighbour ??)

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I did speak to the wife by phone back in May just to introduce myself and explained the plan.

She did not raise any objection.

But now the husband seems to have taken a tougher stance and has told the builder his wife has not spoken to me (probably she has forgotten or he does not know about the call).

I am not there and have never met them.

Both properties are (in our case will be) holiday homes. Theirs is up for sale.

If we had know about this in advance we would have designed the kitchen to be more open plan to living room to create the light. Now it is too late.

There is some advice in this article which migh be helpful.

Hi Graham, the article mentions right to light in English then the right to a Vue in French which is different. On our case high, light obstructive fencing was erected despite we agreeing to not more than 1.2m to preserve the Vue we had when we purchased. We were told there is no right to light in France per se.
In my case I cut the neighbours fence down to 1.2m and that’s where it’s staying!

That is my understanding too.
The use of the article in this thread was merely to highlight where the law stands in this difficult neighbour related issue and not to suggest other than there being no right to light…

Many thanks for your replies.
My builder believes as there were openings there already, we would have some sort of right to light…?
He also says the law has changed now so it is much more like English law.

I agree this is very unpleasant and totally unexpected as I had both informed them and reassured them the windows would be non-opening and would be opaque/frosted.

The windows are not even in yet, you would think they would at least wait to see what they were like (I would have thought much nicer from their side too).

Wait until they’ve sold and then nip in and remove the screens…

That’s just about what a neighbour did to us. When we signed the compromis there was a low picket and wire fence along one boundary. When we returned for the acte de vente it had been replaced with a 2.5m fence. Basically we had a choice to hold up whole sale while we argued the toss over this fence, or just get on with it. We got on with it (and planted a hedge so we can’t see it now).

Well in fact what I was thinking was that, assuming we don’t cross paths much, if they’re not there could we go onto their property and move the screens while we’re there, putting them back again when we leave.

However, this is far from ideal as the chances are we will be there together! (they much more so than us).

What I am amazed about is they can put those screens right up close to the house - not even 1 foot away.

what height then are these screens and are they on the boundary?

Mmm… I think things have to be inside a person’s own boundary by a certain amount. The distance away from the boundary- depending on the height to be achieved. something like that.

I’ll ask around, but too late to do so today.

Trees have to be 2m inside a boundary. But fencing can be on the boundary as far as I know. Which is logical as it usually defines the boundary. So if the boundary between you is 1 foot from your window then they’re not overstepping.

However depending on the rules of the specific commune, fencing does need planning permission and often is limited to 1.20m or 1.50m. Do you know if they applied for permission or made a declaration? You do need to make contact with your Marie. If yiu are not there right now can you just call them?

It is not permanent fencing. They have just put up tallish foldable screens in front of our two windows - they are extremely close to our windows so block most of our light, but are on their own land. Not sure if they actually touch our house but if not it is only by an inch or so.

Their purpose is to make sure we cannot see their terrace (we told them the windows would be frosted).

A really unfriendly act.

I have not seen them only a photo taken by our builder from our roof!! It looks like they come up to the top of our windows, so I suppose around to 2 m high.

Now wouldn’t it be just awful if there was a storm whilst they were not home and the whole lot came down :dash:


It could simply be in place while your work is going on -( if it is not permanent fencing) - probably look better from their side if they are trying to sell the property.

Once your nice frosted, unopening panes are in place - there will possibly be a quick take-down of the panels - who knows. :thinking::relaxed::relaxed:

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The thing is, nothing has happened yet. The builder is installing the windows inside the house and the glass bricks are still in situ. To them everything looks the same as always. He has told them that to avoid disrupting them, he won’t do the work on their side until they return to the UK.

No, they are making a point that they will block our light.

Just a personal perspective in this matter, which is obviously very distressing for the couple whose light is being blocked.

I am not suggesting our experience is relevant to your problem, but it may be food for thought.

We have a very nice garden that includes a small orchard, several lawned areas, a chicken run and a family-sized potager.

It is very secluded in all sides by hedges, trees and shrubs. My wife loves to sunbathe, often with some of her clothes loosened, but never nude. But she hates being ogled, or even seen when lying on a recliner. She feels very vulnerable when in repose and with eyes closed.

Many women feel the same. It is possible that one or both of your neighbours feel the same and, even though your windows are frosted, feel on edge at the presence of your window. It might seem unreasonable, but some people are very private, to the point if being prudish, and any risk of visual intrusion on their intimacy may be intolerable. But it’s hard to explain to others, because it may be taken wrong, as if they are being accused of voyeurism or worse.

It’s a question that might be resolved by sensitive discussion, perhaps between the women party to the problem. It seems to me that it is highly unlikely that the screens are intended to deprive you of light, it would be mindlessly petty. There is almost certainly a more human reason IMO. Just a suggestion!

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Why would anyone put themselves to the trouble and expense (I imagine these screens weren’t cheap to erect) if there was no tangible benefit to themselves? And the most obvious “benefit” in this case is, as Peter says, to preserve their privacy. People tend to regard holiday homes as hideaways, and privacy is very important when you want to hide away.

How will their privacy have changed as the glass bricks are already in situ?

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