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Old 09.01.2014, 10:30
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Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

Hello community!
Here my problem: last year, my husband and I bought with all our savings a small house in canton Zug with a beautiful view on a lake. On the housewarming party day we received a devastating letter informing us that the medium-size house directly in front of us was going to be taken down to make room for a new gigantic privat house. As you can imagine, the owners have stretched it to the maximum. The result for us: the view on the lake disappears, the sun and light in our property will be considerably reduced - loss of quality of life and property value. Despite an attempt to contest the plans by Oberaegeri Gemeinde and support of the neighbours, the permit has been delivered. We still have a possibility to appeal by canton Zug or to use our civil rights. But - we have already spent 7,000 CHF in the first round of "Einsprache" and we absolutely do not have the means - contrary to the owners of the future big house - to spend that kind of money and we are worried about the financial consequences of appealing. Who can advice us? What are our chances to have some modifications made to the existing plans so that we are less impacted by the new build? If we "loose" in our appeal, can we be compelled to pay high legal fees? What is the procedure and cost for a civil-right suit (loss of quality of life, loss of property value, no attemps to find a compromise with the neighbours...)? Are there examples of successes? If it only delays the construction, there is little point. We would just want to get a few modifications to the plans so that we can at least still see the sky...forget about the lake! Thanks for your responses....
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Old 09.01.2014, 10:46
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

I have a friend who has had a vaguely similar experience to yours. I really sypathise with you. In addition to that, I have also had one or two 'challenges' which in the UK would be deemed to be of a legal nature, but here in Switzerland rushing off to a lawyer can sometimes be more harmful than other routes.

My recommendation would be to first of all do the following:

1. If you have a Swiss friend (preferably not in the legal profession) or you know a Swiss person well enough to discuss it with them, you should seek their opinion as to what they would do in similar circumstances.

2. Go and talk to the Gemeinde. This may not be very productive though if you have no connection with the Gemeinde (e.g. you do not know an employee) or you do not speak the language. But in that case, hopefully you have a Swiss friend who could help you with translation if you can make an appointment. If you do go to the Gemeinde, discuss the subject with a pragmatic rather than emotional approach. Find out the facts from the horse's mouth first of all and then explain that you can see why this arrangement might be beneficial to some parties, there are some other impacts which might not have been realised and that you are trying to allay your own fears, or trying to find a way for it to work with all parties.

3. Speak to the Eigentumerverband, if they can help. (I am a tenant, so I do not know to what extent they can advise you)

4. My company has a advisory service for employees with practical / personal problems. If yours does too, go and get that advice.

In short, my point is, get yourself some local knowledge and canvass a local friendly opinion before lawyering up, which often closes doors to negotiation.

I wish you good luck.
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Old 09.01.2014, 10:51
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

Thank you for your wisdom and for reminding me to try and separate emotions from facts. By the way how did it end up for your friend?
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Old 09.01.2014, 10:54
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

My friend was lucky in that she has been in Switzerland for 12 years and her husband knew someone helpful at the Gemeinde

I hope all works out well for you too.
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Old 09.01.2014, 10:58
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

That's ray of hope....thanks


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My friend was lucky in that she has been in Switzerland for 12 years and her husband knew someone helpful at the Gemeinde

I hope all works out well for you too.
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Old 09.01.2014, 10:59
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

Maybe you can discuss with the future neighbours to scale back their plans in exchange for dropping the challenge - though I'm not sure under what basis you make the challenge.

I don't know whether in Switzerland there is a legal right to light etc. I know in Hong Kong there isn't, so someone can build a sky scraper right next to you can completely block out the sun.
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:03
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

I think there is something in the civil rights saying more or less that all precautions must be taken to avoid hurting interests of the neighbours and take all precautions or make compromises to avoid conflicts. but of course this is quite subjective, although the loss of property value is quite real!
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:14
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

The only way to guarantee a view is to be at the front or own all the land, so buying the neighbors house would be the obvious solution. It's totally normal to knock down an old house & build something bigger if you have unused building rights, as land prices rise it will happen more & more.
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:18
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

First question, I guess you do not have legal insurance?, if not likely too late, but would be worthwhile to highlight this for others in future.

I can only relate to how this is done in Canton Vaud, so I assume it is similar in Zug, but probably not exactly the same. After lodging an objection at the level of the Commune, and it going ahead, you can take it to a higher level, but really you should think carefully and get proper advice before doing so, as at least in VD, the one who loses has to pay all the costs and fees. This in itself is often a deterrant for appeals to the higher body.

If you have already hired a lawyer and your objection was not upheld at the level of the commune, it likely has little chance of being overturned at the higher level unless something was missed or there were procedural flaws. A lawyer should have gone through the issue with a fine tooth comb to see if any laws, procedures, codes, etc... were infringed. If you just don't like the new house, but nothing legally was done wrong you have little to stand on. The ones around here that have been appealed and have been successful are with respect to not conforming to things like the commune or canton building regs, urban plan, etc... If you find that they have exceeded the building size for the parcel, then yes this is someting that should be stopped or amended, but if you just don't like the size or style of house without some legal basis then I am afraid you will not be successful.

It is clear the new owners have much deeper pockets than you, and likely the connections with the local authorities, it will thus be an uphill battle. As said previously, if you hire a legal expert to examine the rules/regs and they have found no infringements, I would leave it at that, and move on. On the other hand if you have not done this step, it is definitely worth doing if you can afford it, there are many rules and regs that may be in violation.
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:20
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

...which is OK for the rich ones I suppose...which adds to the sadness that legal challenges can only be brought on if you have money too...
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:26
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

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......which adds to the sadness that legal challenges can only be brought on if you have money too...
Or had been a bit prudent and purchased legal insurance
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:26
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

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...which is OK for the rich ones I suppose...which adds to the sadness that legal challenges can only be brought on if you have money too...
It has always been like this, "legal challenges" are not based on "good and bad" or "right and wrong" but only complying with written laws, inside a complex and often costly legal system...

So like others have told you, if the new neighbor has not infringed any laws, and if they have not infringed any of your rights then, you should accept that evolution and move on.

A tip: although I can imagine how nice it must be to have your own home, etc..., you still need to keep in mind that things always evolve and that a "fixed vision of paradise" is unrealistic and will lead to disappointment...
In other words, as annoying as it must be, probably your nice view of the lake was not meant to last forever.
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:29
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

thank you runningdeer. It seems very unfair that our dream first home gets damaged in such a way but we really can not afford a potentially high cost challenge against a giant. We will probably with leaden heart have to drop it
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:34
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

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thank you runningdeer. It seems very unfair that our dream first home gets damaged in such a way but we really can not afford a potentially high cost challenge against a giant. We will probably with leaden heart have to drop it
Dreaming is the issue hear, you bought a house on a plot of land, you did not buy exclusive rights to a view.
There is a reason that direct waterfront land sells for 2- 10 times the price of land 100m further back. buying on a steep hill offers some insurance but hugely higher building costs.
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:38
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

Thank you Corsebou for your contribution. I know you are right. But it does not remove tha fact that even if we had a good reason for challenging the plans, we would need to invest huge money to make our rights prevail; also without hiring an expert, we would not know for sure what infringements we can address. That's more money. Finally, just the notion that you might loose even if you are in your own rights and have to bear huge legal costs is enough to back down.
So I will for sure take legal assurance for the future but I had never ever thought i would ever ever need it. What a dark world...
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:43
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

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Dreaming is the issue hear, you bought a house on a plot of land, you did not buy exclusive rights to a view.
There is a reason that direct waterfront land sells for 2- 10 times the price of land 100m further back. buying on a steep hill offers some insurance but hugely higher building costs.
Hi Fatman, the irony is that our house is on a hill and despite this precaution, the new build will rise as high as our own house... all this because of this stupid law that says after 10/15 years grown land becomes the reference level. That means anyone who has time and money can fill up land, add 2-3 meters to it and later in life build on top, and so on and so on....
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:44
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

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Thank you Corsebou for your contribution. I know you are right. But it does not remove tha fact that even if we had a good reason for challenging the plans, we would need to invest huge money to make our rights prevail; also without hiring an expert, we would not know for sure what infringements we can address. That's more money. Finally, just the notion that you might loose even if you are in your own rights and have to bear huge legal costs is enough to back down.
So I will for sure take legal assurance for the future but I had never ever thought i would ever ever need it. What a dark world...
Normal legal insurance will exclude property transactions.
I am always amazed that people buy property in CH, I nearly bought some land with an un obstructed lake side view on a hill, it was clear as a foreigner I was going to get shafted so walked away. The advantage of renting is you can give notice & move on if something changes you don't like.

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Hi Fatman, the irony is that our house is on a hill and despite this precaution, the new build will rise as high as our own house... all this because of this stupid law that says after 10/15 years grown land becomes the reference level. That means anyone who has time and money can fill up land, add 2-3 meters to it and later in life build on top, and so on and so on....
So you can presumably add another floor to your house then, so rather than waste money on lawyers call the builders!
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:48
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

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Dreaming is the issue hear, you bought a house on a plot of land, you did not buy exclusive rights to a view.
Yes, this, and putting all of your savings into said dream home.

I would never recommend doing this. Unfortunatley for the OP, things do change and while the emotional side is fully engaged, the reality side needs to be balanced into the equation.
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:48
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

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First question, I guess you do not have legal insurance?,
Does anyone know for sure if legal insurance would cover the costs of appealing (and potentially loosing) a building permit?
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Old 09.01.2014, 11:48
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Re: Legal advice needed / experience sharing- appeal against a building permit

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Hello community!
Despite an attempt to contest the plans by Oberaegeri Gemeinde and support of the neighbours, the permit has been delivered. We still have a possibility to appeal by canton Zug or to use our civil rights.


It is rare that you will 'win' on civil rights if you have 'lost' on the actual legality of the contruction. This is because in Switzerland the laws tend to be consistent (or not overlapping) with eachother, so if the building regulations allow it, then it should be assumed that your 'human rights' are also respected. Or, put it another way, if you could argue against it on reason of loss of light etc, then the building regs wouldn't allow it in the first place. (Unlike eg in the UK where laws can be contradictory to each other, so can lose on one and win on another).


If you have checked the legality of the construction and it's ok then not much you can do. -- unless you know the whole village personally as someone said AND there are others affected too, not just you and can create a revolt against the proposal. But it may be too late for that, if it has been a year.
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