If you bought your house in part because it had a stunning view of mountains, a body of water or another natural feature, you may be understandably upset if your neighbor constructs a fence, an addition or a building that blocks the picturesque scenery. An obstruction may lower your property’s value and make your home more difficult to sell. Depending on where you live and the circumstances, you may or may not be able to take legal action.
Cities and towns that are known for their beautiful scenery often have view ordinances that allow a homeowner whose view has become obstructed by a neighbor’s overgrown tree to sue the neighbor. Some view ordinances have exemptions for certain tree species and for trees that are a certain distance from the property line or on city property. View ordinances typically don’t cover other obstructions, such as fences and additions.
You may be able to purchase an easement, a written contract that can give you an interest in your neighbor’s property, even though you don’t own it. An easement can give you the right to use your neighbor’s property to protect your view and can prevent your neighbor from taking any action that could significantly affect the view from your property. An easement cannot place an unreasonable burden on the property owner.
Other Laws and Regulations
The local government may have other ordinances regulating where buildings may be placed; how high buildings, fences and hedges may be; which species of trees may be grown; and where trees may be located. You may be able to get in touch with the local government and file a complaint on those grounds. If your neighbor’s property is governed by a homeowners association and the neighbor is violating a rule, the HOA may take action if you bring the matter to its attention.
You may be able to take legal action if your neighbor deliberately obstructed your view. To prove that the neighbor acted out of spite, you’ll have to show that the obstruction has no legitimate purpose or that there is no legitimate reason for it to be as high as it is or to be in the location that the neighbor chose. You may be able to work things out through mediation instead of filing a lawsuit.
Consult an Attorney
If your neighbor has taken an action that blocked your view of the surrounding landscape, your legal options will depend on the laws where you live. A real estate attorney can explain the laws that apply to your situation and give you advice on how to address the issue.