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What can I do if my neighbor opens an unlicensed window in front of my house and a short distance away?

Sometimes, the relationship with our neighbors is full of “peculiarities” and, sometimes—the least—of problems. One of the most common, especially when we live in a place with pleasant views, is being surprised when, “suddenly,” the neighbors open a window—without license or permission—in front of our house.

In this situation, you can act in different ways, depending on the situation of the home and the way in which the window has been opened.

What I can do?

Suppose we have a house in an urbanization and our neighbor, to have more light, decides to open a window in one of the walls of his house, a short distance from my plot… Can he do it? How should we proceed?

It is evident that by building this window in one of the walls of his house, he gets more light, but he also has views over my plot. That is why we wonder if he can really do it and what his rights are in these cases.

In addition to the fact that the execution of works, especially those of this type, require certain procedures before the city council of the town in which we reside, article 582 of the Civil Code prohibits the opening of windows with views and balconies or overhangs over the neighbor’s propertyunless there is a minimum of 2 meters away – if they are straight views – or 60 centimeters, if they are oblique.

Window construction

Our neighbor yes you can open a window in the wall of your own house. However, if it were the party wall it couldn’t do it without our consent. However, to do so you must meet a series of conditions:

  • The law prohibits opening windows on a neighbor’s property if there is not a two-meter distance, in a straight line, between the wall on which they are built and the neighboring property. In the same way, side or oblique views of the neighboring property cannot be had if there is no 60 centimeters of distance.

  • In any case, we must not forget that in some autonomous communities these distances may be lower.

What if the window has been closed with materials that prevent vision?

In cases where the window in question has been closed with solid materials that, allowing light to enter, prevent vision over the neighboring property, courts do not usually observe distances that I mentioned previously.

It would be the case, for example, that the window was closed with glass blocks or pavés (also called “glass bricks”). In these cases it is considered that no harm is caused to the adjacent owner, since, by not allowing views over his plot, his privacy is not affected.

Any servitude must be avoided

In any case, if the window does not respect the indicated limits, we must show our opposition, preventing over time an easement of “lights and views” is established in favor of our neighbor; That is, it consolidates his situation and we can do nothing about it. For these purposes, the period that must elapse for the neighbor to acquire the servitude is 20 years.

We must not forget that if our neighbor acquires said easement, we will no longer be able to demand the removal of the window (the easement will have already been consolidated by “prescription”). Therefore, we will not be able to build (even if we do so within the plot) at a distance of less than three meters from said window; Any construction or extension of our home may be limited by the existence of the easement.

How should we proceed?

We have to act quickly, trying – first of all – to convince the neighbor that the window is illegal and that they should cover it up. If you refuse:

  • We will send a burofax (with acknowledgment of receipt and certificate of content) indicating that you have opened a window that violates the legal distances and that you must cover it, giving you a reasonable period of time to do so (for example, one month).

  • If the burofax had no effect on your behavior, we would have to file a lawsuit. In these cases it is advisable to provide as evidence an expert report, which states that the construction of the window does not respect the minimum distances indicated.

*Manuel Martínez Mercado is a lawyer and Doctor of Law.

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