Do you have a right to a view?

Mark Cummings

There is a long established principle in Land Law that an owner cannot protect a view from a property, unless the land owner can rely on a specific covenant (condition tied to the use of land) to protect it.

First recorded in 1610, the right to a view law has ensured that any land owner can't protect a view from land that they own.

This was confirmed recently in a dispute which took place in St. Catherine Bath, Somerset.One owner erected a fence to protect her cattle. The neighbours complained that the fence was only 4 inches from their window and this had ruined their rural view.

An appeal was heard by the Planning Inspectorate who ruled that the fence should stay, so long as it did not exceed a height of 2 metres.  The inspector found that the fence formed part of permitted development and said: “There is no doubt that a means of enclosure can be erected up to 2 metres high along all this boundary”.

Therefore, unless you have the benefit of a specific covenant to prevent the loss of a view, in English law there is little you can do. This can be a real problem for potential house buyers, as a view can be one of the deciding factors when purchasing a property.

It is also important to keep in mind difficulties in dealing with neighbours. For instance, if a neighbour was to plant a hedge that they know will cause annoyance on a common boundary, then you may be able to deal with the situation under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

We at Samuels Solicitors are specialist lawyers who would be able to advise you on the existence of such a covenant and rights which you may have as a land owner.

Has your view been affected by a neighbour? Wanting to do some building works but are worried that you might obstruct someone else’s view?

By contacting us or calling 01271 343457 we can help you to understand the right of view.