– March 10, 2022

The building objection procedure

Our neighbour wants to completely renovate his house. In addition to various adjustments to the exterior, this also includes the installation of two relatively high skylights, which massively restrict our view of the mountains. We would like to file an objection, but we are afraid of a time-consuming and lengthy procedure. What exactly is the procedure? How long can such a process take?

The objection procedure under building law is primarily there to ensure the right to be heard. Since it is no longer possible to lodge an objection once an authority has made a decision on a planning application, you have to oppose it from the outset, i.e. before the planning application is even approved.


Who can lodge an objection?

According to § 207 para. 1 lit. a PBG LU, all persons who can claim an interest worthy of protection in the cancellation of the application may raise an objection against a building permit application. This is the case for anyone who is in noteworthy proximity to the matter in dispute, i.e. anyone who has a greater interest in the rejection of the application than the general public and anyone who is particularly and directly affected to a greater extent than anyone else. The interests worthy of protection do not have to be of a legal nature; they can also be economic, idealistic or purely factual interests. In building law, a spatial relationship, i.e. a fixed neighbourly proximity, is a prerequisite for this. The spatial distance is usually given if the neighbouring property is within a radius of about 100 metres. If this is not the case, however, this does not necessarily mean that one is not entitled to object. The individual case must always be considered and assessed according to the severity of the impact (e.g. noise, light, odours).


The public law objection

In a public-law relationship, a private individual and the state are opposed to each other. According to Art. 194 Para. 2 PBG LU, an objection under public law serves to assert the violation of provisions under public law, i.e. if federal, cantonal or communal provisions are violated by a building permit.


Private law objection

Similarly, an objection under private law can be used to assert violations of legal norms under private law. Frequently affected are the provisions of neighbouring rights under Art. 679 and 684 of the Civil Code. In this relationship, it is no longer a private individual and the state that are opposed to each other, but two private individuals.

The objections under private law are conducted through civil law and the person making the objection is therefore referred by the municipality to a civil judge in accordance with § 62 para. 2 PBV LU. As a result, the procedure is more time-consuming.


Form of the objection

According to § 194 para. 1 PBG LU, the objection must be submitted in writing and in duplicate to the competent authority of a municipality. This is usually the building department, which forwards the objection to the municipal council for a decision.


What must an objection contain?

Every objection must contain an application and a statement of reasons. This must state what the objection is intended to achieve. Normally, this would be the complete refusal or the granting of a partial, adjusted building permit. The previously mentioned interest worthy of protection must also be shown (see above). If the impairment is only temporary but excessive, e.g. noise or dirt, compensation can be claimed under civil law.


What deadlines must be observed?

According to § 193 para. 2 PBG LU, the objection must be submitted within a 20-day period in the ordinary procedure. In the simplified procedure, however, according to § 198 para. 1 lit. d PBG LU, a shortened deadline of 10 days from the delivery of the notice to the landowners applies. This applies to specially designated buildings, installations and changes to them, about which the affected landowners are informed without this being made public.


What happens after the objection has been filed?

The landowners and the developer are notified of the submitted objection within five days of the expiry of the objection period in accordance with § 194 para. 3 PBG so that they can comment on it. If this is the case, the statement is again sent to the objecting party. Subsequently, according to § 196 para. 1 PBG LU, the municipal council decides on the building permit application and the objection.

The objectors are then sent the decision on the building application in accordance with § 196 para. 3 PBG.

In principle, therefore, you must first and foremost ensure that you comply with the applicable deadlines, otherwise an objection will lapse. The exact duration of the procedure can vary greatly and depends on the scope of the building project, the ability of your neighbours to compromise, as well as the workload of the authorities.

Disclaimer: Please note that objection deadlines may vary from canton to canton; this guide only refers to the deadlines according to the Planning and Building Act of the Canton of Lucerne.

Do you have questions about construction law? Our lawyers will be happy to advise you.