Imagine this. You sit in your bedroom. Reading a nice book. And you can enjoy a beautiful view. And you can see beautiful trees and greenery. Maybe even some hills in the background?

Sadly, this fantasy is often cut short when you have neighbours. The overlooking regulations in Australia are quite rigid. 

For us Europeans that sometimes comes as a bit of a surprise. In Germany, where I am from. The rules are pretty different, rather than having high fences all around your property. You see low shrubs or low fencing between properties. Yes, your neighbours can see you. And you can see your neighbour. Which means, you know your neighbours. And more often than not people form relationships and friendships with their neighbours. And invite them over when they have a BBQ. All the kids play together. Often roaming through all the different backyards together. One family may have a trampoline. Another has a little plunge pool. It is such a great community vibe. Which I often miss here in Australia.

Here, everyone seems to be so concerned about their privacy. Heaven forbid, someone could see you while you are eating dinner outside… I often wonder why? What would be the harm if your neighbours saw you and your kids?

Anyhow, there are lots of strict regulations in place here in Australia. And sometimes they can be challenging. And even though you might have an amazing view from your house. You might not be able to enjoy it.

There is a lot of confusion about these rules. So, I will start a little miniseries about this topic.

Today we will start with all the different terms and what they mean.


Terms/ meanings:

The ability of a person standing in a habitable room or on a raised outdoor area to have a direct line of sight into a habitable room window or secluded private open space on a neighbouring property.

Obscure glazing:
textured or permanently frosted glass  (see image 1 below)


a physical barrier which prevents overlooking 

Habitable room: 

a space within a house that is of a shape and size that it could be used for recreation and is not a storage/utility space (eg lounge/living/rumpus rooms, dining room, Bedrooms)  

POS (Private Open Space):
(a) an unroofed area of land; or
(b) a deck, terrace, patio, balcony, pergola, verandah, gazebo, swimming pool or spa

SPOS (Secluded Private Open Space):
This is the same as private open space, except that it refers only to areas not visible from the street and generally to the rear or side of a dwelling. SPOS can on rare occasions be positioned to the front of a dwelling


Raised Open Space:
means a landing with an area of more than 2 m², a balcony, a terrace, a deck or a patio;

Finished Floor level – the final top surface of floor/ deck/ landscaping of a habitable room or raised open space


In the next part we’re gonna talk about the actual regulations.

Stay tuned.

Image 1

Image 1