CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Brief Fact Summary. A person’s house uses solar energy. The owner of adjacent property attempts to build a structure that would block the sunlight from the house.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When a landowner uses solar energy, and a new structure will unreasonably interfere with his use and enjoyment of his solar-powered property, the construction of the new structure can be enjoined under the theory of private nuisance.
Issue. When a person uses sunlight as a source of energy, will the theory of private nuisance allow him to protect his property interest?
Held. Yes. Judgment reversed.
The plaintiff is seeking to protect access to sunlight as a source of energy, not for aesthetic reasons. Access to sunlight as an energy source is important to the landowner who has invested in solar collectors and to a society which has an interest in developing alternative sources of energy.
The law of private nuisance can be used to protect both a landowner’s right of access to sunlight and another landowner’s right to develop land because it recognizes changing social values and conditions.
Recognition of a nuisance claim for unreasonable obstruction of access to sunlight will not prevent land development or unduly hinder the use of adjoining land. Although obstruction of access to light might be found to constitute a nuisance in certain circumstances, this does not mean that it will be or must be found to constitute a nuisance under all circumstances. The result in each case depends on whether the conduct complained of is unreasonable.
The landowner owns at least as much of the space above the ground as he can occupy or use in connection with the land.View Full Point of Law