Do Neighbours have a right to light?

The patios are common areas

I am the President of a Community of 24 homes and 24 garages with storage rooms (not all homeowners have garages and vice versa). The case is that there are neighbors in the Community that in their storage rooms have refrigerators and freezers / freezers / balconies connected to the electricity of their storage room. The Community wants all the neighbors who have those fridges and freezers to remove them for two main reasons:

The question is, to what extent can the Community force a neighbor to disconnect that appliance? And if the neighbor refuses to disconnect it alleging that in his storage room he can have whatever he wants, what can the Community do about it?

An irregular use of very generalized storage rooms is the installation of refrigerators or freezers in its interior with the excuse of the lack of space for it in the respective housing, and taking advantage of the fact that the electrical consumption is usually paid almost always by the community. Nobody would think of plugging a freezer in the corridor, or connecting the electrical connection of the house to the general one of the community, but when it comes to storage rooms a great majority of owners, even those harmed, consider it normal.

Easement of lights and views jurisprudence

Now, this is not always easy to determine and hence the problems that arise, starting from a general principle it could be said that the private property reaches all the elements that are within the independent space, whether they are known or not, whether they are in sight or not. The annexes are those elements expressly assigned as complements of the singular property, be it a storage room, a garage, etc., which follow the same condition as the apartment or premises, enjoying the same independence and private disposition, always joined to the main element.

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The criterion of the doctrine is that the acquisition of the property by “usucapion” does not take place, precisely because of the special characteristics of these common elements, which are in co-ownership, and if they were to become private, it would mean the assignment of quotas and the change of all the others to continue with the total of one hundred hundredths of art. 3 b) of the Horizontal Property Law.

That is to say, the Community cannot act against its own acts, the owner has obtained, in this way, “privative use”, being very doubtful, even, that not being able to modify the coefficient, the Community manages to raise the participation in expenses.

Right to a hearing

Neighborhood associations are groups that can be very complicated for the daily life of the owners. They establish a series of measures to be complied with, and sometimes there are doubts on the part of the owners. One of the questions that many ask concerns the water and electricity meters themselves. It may happen that it is necessary to access this room, where they are all stored, in order to carry out some urgent operation.

Many neighbors complain that they cannot access the meter room of their buildings. The law is clear: all owners have the right to see their water and electricity meters at any time. Therefore, the key that allows access to this room must also be accessible at all times.

It may happen that the access key is in the possession of the building manager, the doorman, or any other owner. This should not be an impediment, since this key should also be available at all times, without the obligation to wait for a worker.

Covering neighbor’s views

To the question of what happens if I do not pay the community of neighbors, article 9 of the Law of Horizontal Property clarifies that every owner has the obligation to contribute to the general expenses to, in this way, assure the support of the building or property. What is not paid, has to be paid among the rest of the owners, that is why the claims of debts in the communities of neighbors are very frequent.

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If as delinquent neighbors we do not attend to the friendly warnings that make us arrive from the administration of the property, we will be pushing the dispute to the judicial route. At this point, the consequences of what happens if I do not pay the community of neighbors go through the presentation of the pertinent proofs and the decision of the judge.

The judge will force the delinquent debtor to settle the amount owed to the community within 20 days. If he does not pay, the community will surely initiate an ordinary process of claim of the above mentioned debt. For this to occur, the debt must be due and settled, and the community administration will present the invoices and documents proving the reason for the dispute.

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