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Old 09.02.2020, 22:35
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Signing away all rights to contest planning application on adjoining field?

Hi all. After 2 years of looking in Geneva we've finally had an offer accepted to buy a house.

In the acte de vente there is a clause saying that we will not oppose the construction permit for the house planned to be built on the adjoining field (originally owned by the same family but now bought by the estate agent who handled the house sale).

Except there is no permit application yet nor have we seen any plans, we only have a very brief verbal description of what the estate agent plans to build. And honestly he seems slightly untrustworthy and doesn't have the best reputation now I ask around. We have no problem with the build if it matches what he described but is it ethical/legal to ask us to sign away any future recourse rights on this? And how do we handle this without losing the house purchase?

Foolishly we went with the notaire he suggested, which now concerns me, but I'm hoping they are as neutral as they are supposed to be!
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Old 09.02.2020, 22:39
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Re: Signing away all rights to contest planning application on adjoining field?

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Hi all. After 2 years of looking in Geneva we've finally had an offer accepted to buy a house.

In the acte de vente there is a clause saying that we will not oppose the construction permit for the house planned to be built on the adjoining field (originally owned by the same family but now bought by the estate agent who handled the house sale).

Except there is no permit application yet nor have we seen any plans, we only have a very brief verbal description of what the estate agent plans to build. And honestly he seems slightly untrustworthy and doesn't have the best reputation now I ask around. We have no problem with the build if it matches what he described but is it ethical/legal to ask us to sign away any future recourse rights on this? And how do we handle this without losing the house purchase?

Foolishly we went with the notaire he suggested, which now concerns me, but I'm hoping they are as neutral as they are supposed to be!
Well, the one who sells sets the rules. So if you don't like it (or think you will not like what he will decide to build), don't buy.

I personally would not go for such a deal. For all it's worth he could decide to build a skyscraper next to you, right in the line of the sun.

But he can do that. And I kind of understand if he does as he definitely plans to build and is not into any hassles caused by people he chose to sell to.
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Old 09.02.2020, 22:44
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Re: Signing away all rights to contest planning application on adjoining field?

If they are selling a house, and already know they want to build on the plot next to it, surely they want to sell to people who will not object since that can cost a lot of time and money. Nothing illegal about it, and the new build has to live up to a truckload of rulings already anyway.

You can decide to walk away, you can decide to just sign and hope for the best, or you add some extra rules like max height, depth, amount of windows on your side of which you feel that if those numbers are exceeded you would not have bought the house.

How you handle all of this without losing the house, can't predict since it depends on the exact situation and the people involved. If it be my house and there are more people willing to buy than I'd just tell you to not waste my time with extra demands.

(I btw would contact the family also directly to ask if they have this condition taken up in the contract of the plot they already sold, if not they can just drop the rule for you if they please)
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Old 09.02.2020, 22:49
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Re: Signing away all rights to contest planning application on adjoining field?

Thanks! They already sold the field so don't see that the sellers would have that much of invested interest at this stage. I imagine they added in the clause as a favour to the estate agent they sold it to. Also there were not many offers - as just the mention of a build right next to it (attached to our future garage) put a lot of people off.

You're right - we could ask for a couple of basic details to be added in like maximum height, vis a vis and we would be more than happy with that.

I'll have a look at the restrictions for that commune online if I can find them.
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Old 09.02.2020, 23:18
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Re: Signing away all rights to contest planning application on adjoining field?

These are some of the questions I'd be trying to answer, in some detail, if I were in your shoes:
  • How desperately do you want the house?
  • What benefits does it give you, besides the coming building site next door?
  • Why, exactly, are you considering buying this specific house?
  • What will your next steps be if you don't buy it?

Something in this sounds to me like it doesn't add up. On one hand the owner of the field has already told you that his new building will abut your garage, yet on the other there are no plans. The whole thing sounds fishy.

If you're prepared to do battle, then equip yourself. Go to the municipal office responsible for planning permission, to ask what is permitted, currently. Then have specifications (beyond those conditions) built into your Offer to Purchase.

But really? Do you want to be living next door to a building-site owned and run by a man you already don't trust? And then he will become your neighbour, or else be the landlord of your new neighbours?
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Old 10.02.2020, 00:11
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Re: Signing away all rights to contest planning application on adjoining field?

Think we're too far into the sale to walk away (monies transferred etc). We just weren't expecting this non-opposition clause, was a surprise. I've checked out the building regulations and am confident he cant build anything shocking so we'll amicably ask for some basic specifications to be added into that clause and I think we'd be all good.

The immobilier who has bought it and is doing the construction is reputable and does many of the builds in Geneva so am not overly worried. Just have an inherent distrust of the verbal word of a salesman

(and yes - we really really want this house - only one thats come close to our spec and budget in a very very long time - such is the housing market in Geneva!)
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Old 10.02.2020, 00:26
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Re: Signing away all rights to contest planning application on adjoining field?

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Think we're too far into the sale to walk away (monies transferred etc). We just weren't expecting this non-opposition clause, was a surprise. I've checked out the building regulations and am confident he cant build anything shocking so we'll amicably ask for some basic specifications to be added into that clause and I think we'd be all good.

The immobilier who has bought it and is doing the construction is reputable and does many of the builds in Geneva so am not overly worried. Just have an inherent distrust of the verbal word of a salesman

(and yes - we really really want this house - only one thats come close to our spec and budget in a very very long time - such is the housing market in Geneva!)
You transferred the money without reading the papers properly?

Or did they add it later and you could not have known? If added later you can just demand your money back and walk away since they changed the conditions of the deal. Or at least you could threaten them with such action and perhaps they give in some an/or offer you some extra discount.
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Old 10.02.2020, 00:29
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Re: Signing away all rights to contest planning application on adjoining field?

Seems he wants to outdo the 15m distance rule.

May be important to know what exactly is built on to your garage. You will share a wall, if there are problems and/or it's not done well, it can get very annoying/expensive/time consuming.
If they only build their garage onto yours it would be okay and automatically function as a spacer.
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Old 10.02.2020, 00:36
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Re: Signing away all rights to contest planning application on adjoining field?

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I've checked out the building regulations and am confident he cant build anything shocking
Are you sure about that?

Around my area, a non-opposition clause often means that a deal has been done to give the builder a variance to local building regs. It's because the builder is doing something that does not comply with general building regulations that neighbors are asked to sign a non-opposition clause.

But everything is local, so YMMV.

Were it me, thought, I'd high tail it down to the Bauamt to look up permit/plan filings. Ask if anyone there has any additional information. I'd also insist the seller provide you with copies of plans - because something must exist if he seller is this far in the process - that have been drawn up, paying special attention to set-backs.

And because I have been burned by unscrupulous agents and shady practices, I'd get independent legal advice.

When you are spending multiple millions on a house, a few thousand to have a legal eagle who actually is acting in your interest could be a good investment.
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