rights-to-lights-for-property-scaled

As is the case in most countries, Spanish law regulates additions and modifications to façades, protecting the rights of owners and neighbours. As a result, you cannot simply open up a window or add a balcony to your façade without consulting the regulations first. Likewise, your neighbour must also bear them in mind when carrying out work that affects light and views.

In this blog post, we look at your rights regarding lights and views as a property owner and a neighbour.

A little legal background

Before we examine the regulations themselves, it’s worth explaining how the law views the relationship between neighbours. The property that wishes to make changes to the façade is called the dominant property (dominante in Spanish). The neighbouring property, with the potential to be affected by the changes, is known as the serving property (sirviente in Spanish). 

Regulations for adding lights and features affecting views focus on the type of wall and distance between the two properties. In many cases, what you or your neighbour are allowed to do is based on whether the wall is separate from your property or shared by it (known as a party wall (muro contiguo in Spanish).

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Rights to add light

The owner’s right to open up a wall to bring more light into his home depends on the type of wall between the two properties.

Non-party wall 

If it’s a non-party wall (i.e. is not joined to the neighbour’s property), the owner may open openings in the wall to obtain more light in the house. The neighbour has no right to oppose this action. 

However, the neighbour does have the right to close the hole if the wall becomes a party wall unless: 

  • A public road separates the two properties. 
  • The owner and neighbour have a prior agreement about the openings in the wall. 
  • At least 20 years have passed since the owner opened up the façade. 

Party wall 

Article 580 of the Spanish Civil Code clearly states that no owner may open a window or hole in a party wall without the consent of the neighbours sharing it. 

Regulations for the openings 

The openings made in the façade to allow more light into the property must meet the following requirements: 

  • The hole may not be more than 30cm².
  • It must be covered by an iron grille (rejas in Spanish) or wire mesh. 

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Rights affecting views

Under Spanish law, an owner may add windows or balconies to a façade even if they affect the views from neighbouring properties. However, the owner must comply with legal regulations, as follows.  

  • The window or balcony must be on a non-party wall. 
  • If the view is direct (i.e. the window or balcony overlooks the neighbouring property in a straight line), there must be a minimum distance of 2m between the owner’s wall and the neighbouring property. 
  • If the view is not direct (i.e. you have to turn your head to see the neighbouring property), the minimum distance is 60cm. 

If the wall is a party wall, the owner must obtain prior consent from the neighbours before adding the window or balcony.

Use of translucent material 

The regulations above refer to openings and windows that allow direct light into a property. However, if the owner wishes to create a hole or window using translucent material such as frosted glass, the regulations are different. This is because Spanish law regards the apertures as walls rather than windows or openings. 

Non-party walls 

Openings or windows built with translucent material are permitted on non-party walls with no restrictions. There are also no limitations on minimum distances. However, the material used must be resistant and solid and not allow a clear view of neighbouring properties.

Get professional advice on your rights 

As you might expect, the rights to add light and windows to a façade are often the cause of conflict among neighbours. If you wish to make an opening in your façade, make sure you follow the pertinent regulations before you start the work. 

Or, if you have a neighbour who has made an opening that directly affects your property, get in touch with our legal team. They’ll be only too happy to offer the right advice for your situation.

Maria Luisa Castro

Director and Founder
María founded CostaLuz Lawyers in 2006 and is the Firm’s Director. María is registered Lawyer number 2745 of the Cadiz Bar Association and is licensed to practice in all areas of law throughout Spain. Working closely with her team, María has developed the firm into one of the most highly regarded and trusted Spanish Law Firms acting for English-speaking clients with legal problems in Spain. We’re here to help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation, initial legal orientation.
María Luisa De Castro - Costaluz Lawyers
 

4 thoughts on “Your Rights to Lights and Views From and Onto Your Property”

  1. Hi I have a neighbour that has concreted up to our party wall about 15 cubic metres of concrete and I fear the wall will collapse on to my property is this legal as they have not consulted me

    1. MARIA LUISA CASTRO

      Hi Steve,

      I would need to know what he has built and how, could you please email me privately and send some pics?

      1. Dear Maria Luisa,
        There is an agricultural land next to my property that is for sale, the current owner selling the land has told me that there is a family wishing to purchase the land to install Polly tunnels of 3.5 meters high ( we would have to share the same entrance to my property and their business).
        I’ve been told by the Ayuntamiento that they can’t build anything closer than 25 meters from my wall and the land they are wishing to buy. How does the Right of view law work in this case? I current have mountain views that would be blocked by these Polly tunnels.
        Can they build them even though these tunnels would block my current views?

        1. MARIA LUISA CASTRO

          Dear Toya,

          To answer your question, I must know the urban parameters of the land, which are defined in the Urban Development Standards of the General Urban Development Plan. These parameters depend on the municipality and in which zone or planning area the plot is located.

          We could assist you further on this if you needed. Where is the property located?

          Kind regards,

          Maria

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