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Obstructions and Disturbances

A landowner has no right to obstruct or deprive the light, air, and view of adjoining owner by erecting buildings or other structures on his/her land.  The land owner is legally liable only for obstruction or deprivation of light, air and view which s/he was enjoying before such building or other structure was erected.  In, Fontainebleau Hotel Corp. v. Forty-Five Twenty-Five, Inc.,[i] Court held that, if a person do not injure other party’s lawful rights, they s/he is not liable.

In, Cohen v.Perrino,[ii] court held that a lawful act is not actionable even if it proceeds from a malicious motive.  However in, Haugen v. Kottas,[iii] the Montana Supreme Court overruled earlier decisions and observed that, “no property owner has the right to erect and maintain an otherwise useless structure for the sole purpose of injuring his neighbor.  Such an action will give rise to an action for both injunctive relief and damages.”

In Prah v. Maretti,[iv] it was held that, a landowner does not have an absolute or unlimited right to use the land in a way which injures the rights of others.  When a landowner uses his/her property unreasonably and interferes with another’s enjoyment of their property, it is a private nuisance.

Courts will grant an injunction when there is an obstruction in the easement of air and light.  Injunction is granted irrespective of whether there is any damage or injury resulting from the obstruction.[v] However, an injunction is refused if there is no material interference with the easement or there is no substantial damages resulting from the interference or obstruction.[vi]

[i] 114 So. 2d 357 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist. 1959)

[ii] 355 Pa. 455 (Pa. 1947)

[iii] 2001 MT 274 (Mont. 2001)

[iv] 108 Wis. 2d 223 (Wis. 1982)

[v] 122 Misc. 630 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1924)

[vi] 80 Conn. 497 (Conn. 1908)

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