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November 25, 2015

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Sunlight suit: Family wins payout

A real estate developer has to pay 100,000 yuan (US$15,650) in compensation to a family whose direct hours of sunlight were reduced below a nationally stipulated minimum by the tallest skyscraper in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, a local court found yesterday.

The plaintiff, surnamed Chen, bought an apartment for his parents in Nanjing’s Gulou district in 2004. Back then, Chen said in court, his parents would be able to enjoy between one and a half to three hours of sunlight during the winter, China News Service reported.

Yet when Nanjing State Assets Greenland Financial Center finished construction of the 450-meter-tall Zifeng Tower in 2010, it blocked sunlight from coming through the windows of the apartment of Chen’s parents, located on the second floor of a residential building.

On winter days, the couple would get between one and two hours of sunlight, the court found — below the nationally mandated minimum.

China’s residential zoning design code divides the country into seven climate zones, with cities further divided into big, medium and small. Under the residential zoning design code pertaining to Nanjing, every occupant of a residential building has the right to a minimum of 2 hours of sunlight at his or her residence on the day of dahan, the last solar term of the Chinese lunar calendar which indicates the onset of the coldest period of the year and is usually observed on January 20 or 21.

Gulou People’s Court yesterday ruled that the Nanjing State Assets Greenland Financial Center was in violation of the code as Zifeng Tower directly reduced the couple’s exposure to sunlight.

“We can’t live without sunshine,” chief judge Wu Jiaqing said, adding that developers had to respect people’s rights to sunlight despite an ongoing development boom.

In 2007, the developer already paid 50,000 yuan to three other neighbors, respectively, but did not compensate Chen’s parents as the development would not affect them, the developer said.

After the parents initially filed a lawsuit in 2010 but later dropped it for reasons that were not disclosed, Chen filed his own suit this May.


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