Trees, bushes and boundaries

The distance is always measured at ground level, even if the tree leans to one side or the other.

The height of a tree is calculated from the base of the trunk to the top, even if the ground is higher in one property than the other.

What should you do if these distances have not been respected ? 

The neighbour can demand that the tree be either pruned or uprooted. The owner of the tree can choose between these options, unless the tree is planted less than 50cm from the property boundary, in which case it must be uprooted.

The owner can contest uprooting the tree under certain conditions:

  • If the tree has exceeded the authorised height for more than thirty years without complaint.
  • If the tree was planted at a time when the two properties formed one single property.
  • If the owner possesses a ruling allowing him to plant it at a reduced distance.

What should you do if the roots of your neighbour’s tree encroach on your property?

The law allows you to cut them, even if the tree has been planted at a distance within the regulations. You do not need to forewarn the owner of the tree before doing this. 

What should you do if the branches of your neighbour’s tree encroach on your property ?

In this case, you do not have the right to cut the branches. You must request that the owner of the tree or shrub trims the offending branches. If he refuses, then you must take your case to a magistrates' court (tribunal d'instance). The pruning of the branches can be requested even if the tree or shrub was planted more than 30 years ago and even if in doing so the tree or shrub will die.

The fruit from my neighbour’s tree falls in my garden – do I have to give it back to them ?

No, there is absolutely no requirement to do this. If the fruit has fallen on your property naturally because the branches overhang your property, you can collect it and do whatever you like with it.

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