It’s coming home: the law gives neighbors the right to recover the ball lost in Belgium | Belgium

The problem of the cranky neighbor refusing to throw a capricious ball over a fence will be a thing of the past in Belgium.

Starting September 1, anyone who accidentally kicks or throws their ball into a neighbor’s backyard will have the legal right to retrieve it – if they’re willing to brave frowns and disapproval. The same will be the case for pet owners who wish to rescue stray animals.

Professor Vincent Sagaert, who helped draft the new property law, said the move was necessary to clarify a complicated legal situation in the country.

“Until September 1, the neighbor must return the ball. [But] they can deny you access to their garden to do so, ”Sagaert told Flemish radio station VRT. “From September 1, you have the right to pick up your ball or your pet, provided it gets there by accident. Simply hitting the ball over the hurdle to look around is prohibited. Of course, you have to use your common sense.

“You have to ring the neighbor’s bell and ask first, but if he refuses or if he is not at home, you can always go into the garden to pick him up quickly,” he added. . “But only to look for your ball or your animal, not to take other things, because that is still called theft.”

Concerns have been expressed that the new law will lead to an outbreak of hostile behavior in the neighborhood. But Eric Dierickx, who as a justice of the peace presides over a small claims court in Wezembeek-Oppem in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant, said law enforcement would be closely watched.

“People can’t just start walking in anyone’s backyard, and it’s the justice of the peace’s job to make sure that happens,” he said. “Abuses will also be punished. We must be vigilant about privacy.

Under a new change in the law, people will have the right to walk on private land, as long as it is not fenced, cultivated or plowed.

It will also be a legal right to access a neighbor’s garden to install a ladder when trimming a hedge or cleaning a gutter. “This right will now be extended to construction work,” said Sagaert. “It is also a temporary right, and neighbors can also ask for compensation for the nuisance.”

Sagaert said he did not believe the law would affect the right to privacy. “Of course, third parties cannot use people’s property,” he said, according to the Brussels Times. “We are talking about situations where a bullet really ended up in the neighbor’s backyard by accident.”

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