On 1 July 2021, the Netherlands had more than 8.0 million homes. In daily life it is inevitable to meet nuisance from your neighbors, one of the most bothering moments would be the unpleasant renovation or extension work of your neighbors.
Building permit and regulations
A construction permit may be required depending on different kinds of renovation work. It can be checked on the website of the municipality where your property is located. The application will be assessed by the municipality, and the result will be published on their website. It is an administrative decision, meaning you have the right to raise an objection, as long as you are a “concerned party” and the decision will affect your life. It is worth noting that the term for an objection is strict. You need to file the objection within six weeks after the decision is published. (please find more information in our article: De Bezwaarprocedure En De Termijnoverschrijding)
Even if the permit is not mandatory, the person should comply with the Building regulations, which will include Building Decree 2012 (Bouwbesluit 2012) as well as the local municipal rules.
Dispute with neighbors about the additions
An objection against the building permit cannot cover all the situations. For example, if your neighbor builds the additions for which a permit is not necessary but affects your environment, or problems arise when the construction work already started, the municipality will not involve in the case. In addition, the building permit is granted after a broad and general assessment, meaning that benefits of individuals may not be fully considered. Problems may arise during the construction work. In this situation, negotiation with your neighbors, or litigation before the court can take the place.
According to Dutch Civil Code Article 5:37, house owners may not cause nuisance to their neighbors by noise, vibrations, smells, smoke or gases, or by impeding their neighbors from enjoying daylight or fresh air, or taking away the support of buildings. In Title 4 there are more detailed obligations of owners of their neighboring properties. There is always a need to make the conclusion case by case, judging between the benefits of each party.
For a nuisance to be assumed, one of the unlawful modes of action must be met: infringement of a right, breach of a statutory duty or breach of a social customs. For example, the removal of the fence in the middle of the two neighboring properties is evidently an infringement of the right of ownership, since the owners of two properties share the belonging.
In one case, although the owner has applied a building permit, the neighbor found the nuisance during the renovation work quite a hindrance to their life, for example, a window would be completely covered by the side wall of the newly built part, and the neighbor found the foundation for the new building affect the ventilation of the crawl space. On the basis of case law, the judge hold that it depends on the nature of the permit from municipality and interest and aim pursued by the regulation on which the permit is based to answer the question that whether and to what extent the permit would influence the assessment of an “unlawful nuisance”. A building permit is usually assessed concerning the framework of zoning plan and general arrangements, and may not consider individual matters, which however would lead inconvenience and nuisance to the neighboring properties and their owners.
In a later case, the judge of the Supreme Court confirmed and followed such analysis. In addition, they hold that Article 5:37 is not listing the nuisance exhaustively, instead, it provides some examples as reference. As long as the conduct, in view of the examples given in that provision, is hindering someone from enjoying thing, it is an interference to them. The Supreme Court uphold the analysis of the Court of Appeal that to assess “unlawful nuisance”, it depends on the nature, severity and duration of the nuisance and the damage caused thereby in connection with the further circumstances of the case, including the local conditions. In this case, the dispute arose between the owners of the adjacent houses since the plaintiff applied for a building permit to extend the house. The neighbors claimed that the extension brought unlawful nuisance under Article 5:37.
Not all the cases will be solved through litigation. Besides, more cases could be settled during the negotiation, where an experienced lawyer could help you to hold your rights and benefits with less compromise.
If you are enduring the nuisance from your neighbor and would like to solve it through negotiation or litigation, we are pleased to discuss with you by phone or email. You can reach out to us via email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us by +31 (0) 30 23 00230 or +31 (0) 85 48 35230.