Hello. We would like to expand the “usable space” on our merpeset sheirut, by breaking down a one meter high wall, and then laying a proper floor where there is now only a makeshift metal/hard plastic one. This will effectively double the size of our merpeset sheirut, as there are laundry lines but nothing else there on the other side of this one meter wall. The building was constructed with real walls and a real roof over this whole space, so I feel that it is part of our dira. We also want to break through the kitchen wall and put a door there to come into and out from the merpeset sheirut, instead of having to go through the washroom/toilet/shower to get in and out from there. The door would open into this part of the merpeset sheirut that hasn’t gotten much use until now. And the laundry would go on laundry lines on the outside of the dira on the other side of our wall, where we now have a huge screen window.
The question is that our downstairs neighbor thinks that we may not tear down our one meter high wall, nor put down a real floor, nor break through from our kitchen and put a door between the two rooms, nor put our laundry outside of the dira, because he feels (his wife feels, to be more accurate) that we will then be able to see into their very large chatzer one floor below. They claim that they would have to give us permission to do what I have described, lifnim m’shuras hadin, which they refuse to do. I claim that I think it is m’shuras hadin, since this is already part of our dira, and they should not be able to block it. As far as seeing into their chatzer, I have agreed, working with the architect, to construct a mistoor kevisa, so that it is not possible to see into their chatzer, but air will still pass through to dry the clothes.
If I can break down the one meter wall that is in my dira (not an external wall to the building), and put down a real floor, where there is already real walls and a real ceiling, then I would be able to see into their chatzer, but I am not breaking through an outer wall and opening a window to do that, and my idea of a specially made mistoor kevisa, should take care of their claim of hezek ri’eeah.
What is the halacha? Who is right?
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer me, as they have said that maybe we could go to a beis din to see who is correct, and I want to clarify first here that I am within my rights and receive any advice or sources you can give me, so that I will be best prepared if in fact we go to beis din.
As you correctly note, the principle claim here is a claim of hezek re’iyah, concerning which Chazal are particularly stringent. Therefore, it is important to find a method by which you will not be seeing into your neighbor’s private domain. If you are able to make a satisfactory arrangement for this, I cannot see any reason why your neighbor would want to prevent you from expanding your balcony, or a halachic reason why they would be entitled to do this.
There is also room to discuss the question of hezek re’iyah in today’s yards, which are unlike the yards during the times of Chazal, but if you are prepared to make a screen that will solve the issue (you can perhaps add flowers and leafage to make it more attractive), this is surely the best option.
Neighborly relations are in general very important, and try to persuade your neighbor that your extended balcony won’t cause them damage, show them pictures, and so on. This is preferable to going to Beis Din and entering possibly lengthy disputes.