When a Neighbor's Fence Blocks Your Scenic View

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When a Neighbor's Fence Blocks Your Scenic View

People often choose to buy a house because of the views it has, and scenic views can have a tremendous impact on the value of property. Problems can arise if a neighbor chooses to erect a fence or shed, or plants trees that will deprive another neighbor of their view. There are steps you can take to prevent the construction or planting, and preserve your scenic view to enjoy.

Easements

Absent regulations, there is no guaranteed right to a view that comes along with ownership of property. However, you can change this by purchasing an easement from your neighbor, that prevents them from erecting any structure or planting trees that block your view. The payment for the easement may be worth it to prevent problems in the future.  

If an easement is in place, and the neighbor decides to build something regardless, you can take them to court for breach of contract, and a judge will order the easement to be enforced. Additionally, the neighbor in breach of the easement may be ordered to pay your legal fees.

Zoning

If you do not have an easement protecting your view, and your neighbor is planning to build a fence or plant trees blocking your view, you may find a solution in your local laws. Many city zoning ordinances contain provisions about fence type or height. This is especially true for scenic areas, because the locality may have taken steps to preserve views for homeowners.  If you live in a condominium development, co-op, or planned subdivision, your locality may have additional regulations in place, or a Homeowner's Association, which can settle these types of disputes.

Spite Fences

If you do not have an easement, and there are no zoning laws on the issue, it is much more difficult to prevent a neighbor from blocking your view. However, if you can demonstrate to the court that your neighbor was deliberately or maliciously trying to block your view, the offensive structure or plant could be considered a spite fence.  In order to be considered a spite fence, you will need to show that the structure has no other legitimate purpose other than to block your view. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have a dispute with your neighbor regarding views from your house, you should contact an attorney. An attorney can help you to determine what kinds of local regulations may protect your view, and can assist you with filing formal complaints against your neighbor. If you have a view that you would like to protect from a neighbor's interference, an attorney can help you draw up a contract with your neighbor to give you an easement and prevent that view from being blocked. 

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Last Modified: 11-13-2013 10:27 AM PST

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