Question: We recently constructed a new home on a hillside. The lot has amazing scenic views, which is the main reason we purchased it. Adjacent and below our lot is another lot and home. Our landscape plan included trees that, when grown, will partially block the adjacent neighbor’s scenic view. Before we designed the home and landscaping, we reviewed all deed restrictions and city ordinances. We are not aware of any restriction on constructing improvements that block a neighbor’s scenic view. Our neighbor is now threatening a lawsuit if we do not remove our trees, stating that an obstructed view is a nuisance and will diminish their property’s value. Are they right?
Answer: Arizona does not recognize an automatic right to a scenic view, or a right to light or air over an adjacent property, without an express easement granting such right. While it has yet to be specifically decided in Arizona, the general rule elsewhere is that an obstructed view does not constitute a nuisance absent an easement or a statute to the contrary. Even if Arizona were to recognize a protected interest in a view without an easement, the neighbor would have to prove that the obstruction was substantial, intentional and unreasonable under the circumstances, and that they have suffered significant harm. Not only is the neighbor’s complaint premature, but is also unlikely that they will be able to establish any right to an unobstructed scenic view in the future.