Q: My neighbor wants to extend his pool and add fountains. Although it will look attractive, it will significantly block my view of the lake and realtors have told me that this will decrease my property value. The HOA is considering the request next month. Can I block this?
A: This is a common question that really has two components. The first is whether a landowner is entitled to maintain a specific view in perpetuity. The general answer is no. When you chose your lot and home, like most homeowners, the view was part of your decision and it should be. That being said, if you have a forest behind your home when you purchase the home, it is very possible (absent a conservation area or preserve) that those trees will become another commercial or residential development. Likewise, when you purchased a home with neighbors in close proximity, it was always possible that your neighbors would use all of their buildable lot – including a pool and lanai extension into your line of sight. There are exceptions to this rule and your specific homeowners’ covenants may provide that owners are guaranteed an unobstructed view of the water, but this is unlikely.
Second, Florida law changed approximately 10 years ago so that homeowners’ associations could no longer approve or deny architectural change applications purely on subjective measures. The association is now required to adopt specific and objective criteria such as color, height, materials, and others. Here, you should review your architectural guidelines to determine whether the proposed pool and fountain meet these criteria. In the event the extension would violate the guidelines, it is important that you bring this to the association’s attention now as opposed to later.
In sum, owners do not generally have any protected right to a specific view, but it is possible and therefore I recommend you review the covenants and architectural guidelines with a licensed Florida attorney for relevant provisions.
John C. Goede Esq. is co-founder and shareholder of the Law firm Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. T o ask questions about your issues for future columns, send your inquiry to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.