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What can I do if my neighbor blocks my view?

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2023 | Real Estate Litigation

When homes in California and around the country have beautiful views, they are worth more money and are easier to sell. Homes in Los Angeles with unobstructed views of the San Fernando Valley are worth about 20% more than properties without views, and an ocean view can be worth even more. This means that homeowners can suffer significant financial harm when their views are obstructed by walls, structures or untrimmed trees, but there is rarely much they can do about it.

Obstructed views

The law offers few options to property owners with obstructed views. Some cities and towns in California have view ordinances on their books, but these ordinances only apply to trees. If such an ordinance is in place, a property owner could petition the court to have an obstructing tree trimmed or removed. Before initiating real estate litigation, it would be wise to contact the owner of the property with obstructing trees to try to work things out amicably. If a view is blocked by a wall or building, a view ordinance would offer no remedies.

View easements

If you own a home with a valuable ocean or valley view, you can protect it by purchasing a view easement from neighboring property owners. An easement is a type of real estate contract that gives a property owner a nonpossessory interest in another piece of land, and a view easement gives them the right to enjoy an unobstructed view. Easements must be negotiated between property owners as they cannot be imposed by courts.

Few legal options

A beautiful view can add hundreds of thousands or even millions to the value of a home, but the law offers little to help homeowners when their views are obstructed. A homeowners can take legal action to protect their view if the town or city they live in has a view ordinance, but few municipalities do. The best way to protect a view is to purchase a view easement from neighboring property owners.