We have never had any access to our back garden. The only access is by a right of way owned by the commune. This right of way, the width of a car, goes across our neighbours’ land and provides access to our back garden. Over the years we have been extremely grateful for this right of way as without it we would have been barrowing manure, concrete and other horrors through the house!

Nicola Harrington - guest blogger living in France with 7 holiday rental gites
Nicola Harrington

Our neighbour has just put his house on the market and he has agreed to sell us a small part of his garden. The right of way is now somewhat redundant as our garden now surrounds it. In order to do some work to the garden, we went to the Mairie to see if we could buy this now redundant right of way.

Brown Wooden Bench Near Green Leaf Tree

The mayor looked at the plans, came to see the right of way and agreed to sell it to us at a prescribed rate set by parliament… about 65 cents per square metre I think! I think we will be paying more in notaires fees than for the right of way!

As the mayor left, he said: “Of course, you do know that I have to put notices in the Mairie of this proposed purchase, and any farmer in the commune has a right of pre-emption”.

What could we say, the law is the law… but we just hope that a farmer doesn’t agree to buy this tiny strip of land to grow his potatoes!

Don’t joke, Nicola …

Editor’s Note:

To buy a right of way (droit de passage) owned by a commune in France, you’ll generally need to follow a series of steps involving negotiation, legal assessments, and potentially, municipal council approval. Here’s a general guide to help you through the process:

  1. Initial Inquiry and Proposal: Reach out to the local commune’s administrative office to express your interest in purchasing the right of way. It’s crucial to clearly state your intentions and how you plan to use the land. Prepare a formal letter of inquiry or proposal outlining your request.
  2. Consultation with the Commune: After your initial inquiry, there might be a period of consultation with various departments of the commune to assess the feasibility and implications of selling the right of way. This can involve urban planning, legal, and financial departments.
  3. Appraisal and Valuation: If the commune is open to your proposal, they will likely require an appraisal to determine the value of the right of way. This may involve hiring a professional appraiser or surveyor, whose costs could be your responsibility.
  4. Municipal Council Decision: For the sale to proceed, the proposal often needs to be approved by the municipal council. This might require presenting your case at a council meeting and demonstrating how the sale benefits the community or does not adversely affect it.
  5. Drafting of Sale Agreement: If approved, a sale agreement will be drafted, outlining the terms of the sale, including the price, conditions, and any obligations on your part, such as maintenance or public access rights.
  6. Notary Involvement: In France, the transfer of property rights requires the involvement of a notary (notaire). The notary will handle the legal aspects of the sale, ensuring that all statutory requirements are met and that the sale is properly registered.
  7. Payment and Registration: Once the agreement is finalised, you will be required to pay the agreed-upon price. The notary will then register the transfer of the right of way, making you the new owner.

It’s important to note that buying a right of way from a commune can be a complex process, subject to specific local regulations and the strategic interests of the commune. It’s highly recommended to seek legal advice and assistance from a lawyer or notaire who specialises in real estate and property law in France. They can guide you through the process, help negotiate terms, and ensure that your interests are protected.

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