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Building & Renovation

Loss of View Amounts to Nuisance

Tuesday 07 August 2018

A couple have been successful in their legal action against a neighbour, whose house extension substantially impaired their view of the Pyrenees.

The owner of a property in Bruges, Pyrénées Atlantiques, obtained planning permission for an 7-metre long garage extension to his property, in close proximity to the border of a neighbouring property and parallel to a house on the plot. The surface area of the extension was 40m2 and the height 6.65 metres.

The neighbours considered that this extension considerably reduced the level of sunlight on their house and swimming pool, and deprived them entirely of their view of the Pyrénées they had previously enjoyed.

Despite several amiable attempts to resolve the matter they had been unable to do so, and so brought action in the courts on grounds of neighbour nuisance (trouble abnormal de voisinage).

For reasons of their own the couple did not seek demolition or modification of the new construction, but payment of damages of €20,000.

They also sought closure of two windows that had been installed in the extension, and which overlooked their property.

By a judgement in the TGI in Pau the couple obtained cause in their case, with the court awarding them €12,000 damages, and their neighbour ordered to close off the offending windows in the extension.

This decision was appealed by their neighbour, but the judges broadly reaffirmed the decision of the lower court, increasing the level of the damages to €20,000.

However, they overturned the order to close off the windows in the garage due to the fact that they were of opaque construction, offering no possibility of overlooking.

The decision gives further confirmation of the principle that, although a development may be permitted on planning grounds, it can be challenged on the grounds that it constitutes a nuisance.

The nuisance must be one that exceeds the normal inconveniences of having neighbours, but the principle is one that has been upheld in other similar cases, as the case below shows.

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