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18 January 2018

There's no place like home until the neighbour interferes

My home is my castle. 

Unfortunately, the Austrian Supreme Court ("OGH") doesn't think so. The Austrian Civil Code (ABGB) entitles property owners to prohibit all emissions that exceed the local norm and have a substantial effect on the customary use of their property.

Here are some rulings that the OGH has made since 2011:

  • Smoking on the balcony (2 Ob 1/16k)
    Those who wish to smoke on the balcony of an apartment building must balance their interests with those of their nonsmoking neighbours. As there was a lack of consensus of the neighbouring parties in this case, the OGH ruled that it is forbidden to smoke on the balcony during night hours (10:00 pm – 6:00 am) and during certain periods of the day (8:00 am – 10:00 am, 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm).
  • High cypresses shade neighbouring plot (1 Ob 84/16h)
    Owners of cypresses that completely shade a neighbour's plot after 3:00 pm are obligated to trim the cypresses.
  • Trees in a residential area (8 Ob 59/15g)
    An apartment owner claimed that his neighbour's trees prevented sunlight from reaching his property. The OGH stated that at the time the owner bought the apartment he could not have reasonably expected that the saplings in his neighbour's plot would grow uncontrolled to their current size. Therefore, if trees block daylight to an unacceptable degree, the neighbour must trim them.
  • Rock band rehearsal (2 Ob 166/14x)
    The owner of a cellar in an apartment building leased the cellar to rock bands. Although the apartment building is located in the city centre, the OGH stated that a typical neighbour would find prolonged rehearsals annoying. Therefore, the owner of the cellar is obliged to stop them.
  • Wildly rampant greenery on roof terrace (8 Ob 78/13y)
    If planting on the roof terrace is uncustomary for the site and attracts wild pigeons, neighbours are entitled to request that the owner of the roof terrace remove the plants.
  • Cat on neighbouring plot (5 Ob 138/11x)
    The owner of a plot has to accept that a neighbour's cat may enter and soil his plot, as there is no legal obligation to keep cats indoors and the tethering of cats is not allowed.
  • Chickens on a neighbouring plot (10 Ob 52/11m)
    The owner of a plot is obliged to fence off his plot if he releases his chickens every day from 2:00 pm until twilight and if his chickens enter neighbouring plots.

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Further reading
Do our smart devices have the right to remain silent?
Legal trespassing
Do video cameras compromise privacy?


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