Usufruct

Usufruct is the right to enjoy things of which another has ownership, like the owner himself, but is responsible for preserving the substance.

  • Usufruct is established by law, or by the will of man.
  • The usufruct can be established, or purely, or on a certain day, or on condition.
  • It can be established on any kind of movable or immovable property.

Rights of the usufructuary

The usufructuary has the right to enjoy any kind of fruit, whether natural, industrial or civil, that the object which he has usufruct can produce.

Natural fruits are those that are the spontaneous product of the earth. The product and the growth of the animals are also natural fruits.

The industrial fruits of a fund are those obtained by cultivation.

The civil fruits are the rents of the houses, the interests of the sums due, the arrears of the rents.

The prices of farm leases are also classified in the civil fruit class.


Natural and industrial fruits, hanging by branches or by roots when the usufruct is open, belong to the usufructuary.

Those who are in the same state at the time when the usufruct ends belong to the owner, with no reward on either side of plowing and seeds, but also without prejudice to the portion of the fruit which could be acquired by the partial colonist, s ‘there was one at the beginning or at the end of the usufruct.

Civil fruits are deemed to be acquired day by day and belong to the usufructuary in proportion to the duration of his usufruct. This rule applies to the prices of farm leases as well as to rents for houses and other civil fruits.

If the usufruct includes things that cannot be used without consuming them, such as money, grains, liqueurs, the usufructuary has the right to use them, but it is up to the customer to return them. usufruct, either things of the same quantity and quality or their estimated value on the date of return.

The usufruct of a life annuity also gives the usufructuary, for the duration of his usufruct, the right to collect the arrears, without being bound to any refund.

If the usufruct includes things that, without being consumed immediately, deteriorate little by little by use, such as linen, furniture, the usufructuary has the right to use it for the use for which they are intended, and is only obliged to return them at the end of the usufruct in the state in which they are, not damaged by fraud or by their fault.

If the usufruct includes coppiced wood, the usufructuary is bound to observe the order and the proportion of the cuts, in accordance with the layout or the constant use of the owners; without compensation, however, in favor of the usufructuary or his heirs, for ordinary cuts, either of coppice, or of trimmings, or of forest, which he would not have made during his enjoyment.

The trees that can be pulled from a nursery without degrading it are also part of the usufruct only if it is the responsibility of the usufructuary to comply with the customs of the place for the replacement.

The usufructuary still takes advantage, still conforming to the times and to the use of the former owners, of the parts of the high forest that have been cut into regular sections, that is to say that these cuts are made periodically over a certain area of ​​land, or that they are made of a certain quantity of trees taken without distinction on the whole surface of the domain.

In all other cases, the usufructuary cannot touch the tall trees: he can only use the trees uprooted or broken by accident to make the repairs for which he is responsible; he may even, for this object, have it cut down if it is necessary, but it is up to the owner to confirm it.

He can take, in the woods, stakes for the vines; he can also take annual or periodic products from trees; all according to the custom of the country or the custom of the owners.

The fruit trees that die, the very ones that are uprooted or broken by accident, belong to the usufructuary, responsible for replacing them with others.

The usufructuary can enjoy by himself, lease to another, even sell or assign his right free of charge.

The leases that the usufructuary alone has made for a time that exceeds nine years are, in the event of the cessation of the usufruct, binding on the bare owner only for the time that remains to run, either from the first period of nine years, if the parties are still there, that is to say the second, and so on so that the lessee has only the right to complete the enjoyment of the period of nine years in which he is.

Leases of nine years or less that the usufructuary alone has spent or renewed more than three years before the expiration of the current lease in the case of rural property, and more than two years before the same period these are houses, have no effect, unless their execution has started before the cessation of the usufruct.

The usufructuary may not, without the assistance of the bare owner, lease a rural land or a building for commercial, industrial or artisanal use. In the absence of agreement from the bare owner, the usufructuary may be authorized by the courts to perform this act alone.

The usufructuary enjoys the increase that has occurred by alluvial to the object of which he has usufruct.

He enjoys the rights of easement, right of way, and generally all the rights which the owner can enjoy, and he enjoys them like the owner himself.

He also enjoys, in the same way as the owner, the mines and quarries which are in operation at the opening of the usufruct; and nevertheless, if it is an exploitation which cannot be made without a concession, the usufructuary can enjoy it only after having obtained the permission of the President of the Republic.

He has no right to mines and quarries not yet opened, nor to peat bogs whose exploitation has not yet started, nor to the treasure that could be discovered during the duration of the usufruct.

The owner cannot, by his act, or in any way whatsoever, harm the rights of the usufructuary.

For its part, the usufructuary cannot, upon the cessation of the usufruct, claim any compensation for the improvements he claims to have made, although the value of the thing was increased.

He may however, or his heirs, remove the glass, paintings and other ornaments that he would have placed, but at the expense of restoring the premises to their first state.

Obligations of the usufructuary

The usufructuary takes things in the state in which they are, but he can only enter into enjoyment after having drawn up, in the presence of the owner, or duly called him, an inventory of the furniture and a state of the buildings subject to ‘usufruct.

He gives surety to enjoy being a good father, if he is not exempted by the constitutive act of usufruct; however the father and mother having the legal usufruct of the property of their children, the seller or the donor, subject to usufruct, are not required to give security.

If the usufructuary cannot find a surety, the buildings are given on a firm basis or placed in receivership;

The sums included in the usufruct are invested;

Food is sold and the price from it is similarly placed;

The interests of these sums and the farm prices belong, in this case, to the usufructuary.

In the absence of a deposit from the usufructuary, the owner may demand that the furniture which deteriorates through use be sold, for the price of being placed like that of foodstuffs; and then the usufructuary enjoys the interest during his usufruct: however the usufructuary may request, and the judges may order, depending on the circumstances, that part of the furniture necessary for his use be abandoned to him, under his simple legal guarantee , and to represent them at the end of the usufruct.

The delay in giving security does not deprive the usufructuary of the fruits to which he may be entitled; they are due to him from the moment the usufruct was opened.

The usufructuary is only bound to maintenance repairs.

Major repairs remain the responsibility of the owner, unless they were caused by the lack of maintenance repairs, since the opening of the usufruct; in which case the usufructuary is also bound by it.

Major repairs are those of large walls and vaults, the restoration of beams and entire roofing.

The whole of the dikes and the retaining and closing walls.

All other repairs are maintenance.

Neither the owner, nor the usufructuary, is required to rebuild what has fallen into decay, or what has been destroyed by fortuitous event.

The usufructuary is bound, during his enjoyment, of all the annual charges of the inheritance, such as contributions and others which in use are considered to be charges of the fruits.

With regard to the charges that may be imposed on the property during the duration of the usufruct, the usufructuary and the owner contribute to it as follows:

The owner is obliged to pay them, and the usufructuary must take his interests into account;

If they are advanced by the usufructuary, the capital repeats at the end of the usufruct.

The legacy made by a testator, of a life annuity or alimony, must be paid by the universal legatee of the usufruct in its entirety, and by the legatee by universal title of the usufruct in proportion to its enjoyment, without no repetition on their part.

The usufructuary in a private capacity is not liable for the debts to which the fund is mortgaged: if he is forced to pay them, he has his recourse against the owner, except what is said in article 1020 , under the title ” Inter vivos donations and wills “.

The usufructuary, or universal, or on a universal basis, must contribute with the owner to the payment of debts as follows:

The value of the fund subject to usufruct is estimated; the contribution to debts is then fixed at the rate of this value.

If the usufructuary wants to advance the sum for which the fund must contribute, the capital is returned to him at the end of the usufruct, without any interest.

If the usufructuary does not want to make this advance, the owner has the choice, or to pay this sum, and, in this case, the usufructuary takes account of his interests during the duration of the usufruct, or to sell up to ‘up to a portion of the property subject to usufruct.

The usufructuary is only liable for the costs of the trials which concern enjoyment and of the other sentences to which these trials may give rise.

If, during the duration of the usufruct, a third party commits some usurpation of the fund, or otherwise expects the rights of the owner, the usufructuary is bound to denounce it to the latter; failing this, he is responsible for all the damage that may result for the owner, as it would be for damage committed by himself.

If the usufruct is established only on an animal which comes to perish without the fault of the usufructuary, the latter is not required to return another, or to pay the estimate.

If the flock on which a usufruct has been established perishes entirely by accident or disease and without the fault of the usufructuary, the latter is only bound towards the owner to report to him the leathers, or their estimated value at the date of return.

If the herd does not perish entirely, the usufructuary is bound to replace, to the extent of the increase, the heads of the animals which have perished.

How the usufruct ends

The usufruct ends:

By natural death and by civil death (1) of the usufructuary;

By the expiration of the time for which it was granted;

By consolidating or bringing together on the same head, the two qualities of usufructuary and owner;

By not using the law for thirty years;

By the total loss of the thing on which the usufruct is established.

The usufruct may also cease by the abuse that the usufructuary makes of his enjoyment, either by committing degradations on the fund, or by letting it wither away for lack of maintenance.

The creditors of the usufructuary can intervene in disputes for the conservation of their rights; they can offer reparation for the damage committed and guarantees for the future.

The judges may, depending on the gravity of the circumstances, or pronounce the absolute extinction of the usufruct, or order the re-entry of the owner in the enjoyment of the object which is encumbered with it, only under the charge of paying annually to the ‘usufructuary, or his successors in title, a specified sum, until the moment when the usufruct should have ceased.

Usufruct which is not granted to individuals lasts only thirty years.

Usufruct granted until a third reaches a fixed age lasts until that time, although the third died before the fixed age.

In the event of the simultaneous sale of the usufruct and the bare ownership of a good, the price is divided between the usufruct and the bare ownership according to the respective value of each of these rights, unless the parties agree to defer the ‘usufruct on the price.

The sale of the encumbered good of usufruct, without the agreement of the usufructuary, does not modify the right of this last, which continues to enjoy its usufruct on the good if it has not been expressly renounced.

The creditors of the usufructuary may cancel the waiver he has made of their loss.

If only part of the thing subject to the usufruct is destroyed, the usufruct is retained on what remains.

If the usufruct is established only on a building, and this building is destroyed by fire or other accident, or if it collapses with age, the usufructuary will not have the right to enjoy either the ground or materials.

If the usufruct was established on an area of ​​which the building was a part, the usufructuary would enjoy the soil and the materials.


Source:  French Civil Code