Right to Light Law

8 Jun 2022 | James Mayall
right to light

Right to Light Law in the UK

Property owners have a legal right to light as set out in the Rights of Light Act 1959.

The property disputes team at Osbornes solicitors has a successful track record in advising residential and commercial property owners on the extent of their right to light and supporting them in disputes with neighbours.

The right to light is a type of ‘easement’ – a legal right giving property owners the right to receive light through their buildings’ windows and other ‘apertures’.

The neighbouring property owner is not allowed to substantially interfere with that right, for example by erecting a new building that significantly blocks out your light.

Importantly, the right to light does not benefit the land itself – only buildings erected on the land.

Acquiring the right to light

If you’re a property owner or tenant, you may enjoy an express legal right to light as set out (or referred to) in the registered title at HM Land Registry or:

  • Under the Prescription Act 1832, which gives you a legal right to sufficient natural light coming into your property. The property must have enjoyed 20 years’ uninterrupted access to light; and/or
  • Under the ‘lost modern grant’ principle. This states that if the light has been used openly and continuously for 20 years, without force and without permission, the court will treat it as though a formal deed is lost.

Sometimes, problems can arise that threaten your right to light. For example, the neighbours may have started to build an extension that your fear will interfere with your right to light; or trees or hedges on neighbouring land has started to block the light that has naturally entered your home for many years.

You may find that the neighbours are completely unaware they are affecting your right to light. Our specialist lawyers will help you defend your rights and take robust, urgent action before it’s too late.

Protecting your right to light

Your neighbours are not permitted to build anything that blocks the light from entering your property without your permission. You do not have to tolerate anything that limits the light coming through into your property if falls below an acceptable standard.

If you are a homeowner or commercial property owner, we will assist you in protecting your right to light; or in defending a related claim against you.

We also advise property developers, builders, architects, surveyors and other professionals who need specialist advice and representation on right to light issues.

Right To Light Lawyers

Our expert lawyers will carefully examine the registered title(s) of the property (and the neighbouring land if appropriate) and look at the factual background to the dispute to determine the nature and extent of the right to light.

There’s no guarantee that we can secure or protect the full extent of the light your property has enjoyed over the years. This is because the court’s approach has been to determine how much light you have been left with – and then to consider if you still have sufficient for normal property use.

We may then decide the best course of action is to commission an expert surveyor to determine your actual loss of light or the anticipated reduction of light. We can then advise you on the best strategy we should adopt.

In cases of serious deprivation of your light, we will not hesitate to formally request the removal of the obstruction. It may become necessary to apply for an injunction prohibiting, for instance, further building work until the dispute is resolved.

We are also experienced in securing compensation for clients whose right to light has been infringed.

Importantly, our lawyers will work hard to achieve a robust and swift resolution to avoid any need for expensive litigation. Most cases can be settled before proceedings become necessary.

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    • “Shilpa is knowledgeable and helpful. She is not afraid to challenge the boundaries for her clients, with excellent results.”

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    • “Shilpa combines the fierce representation of her clients’ best interests with the reasonable and constructive attitude that the Court always looks for in modern litigation. She has invaluable tactical awareness and skilfully handles complex and unusual cases and difficult opponents. As a barrister it is a pleasure to be instructed by her because you so often find that she has already taken the steps that you would have recommended had you been the client’s first point of contact. Her preparation of cases for trial is extremely thorough and helps ensure a positive result before you have set foot in Court.”

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    • “Mostly I am grateful that Shilpa was understanding about the delays caused by my illnesses, and that she stuck with me and got a good deal for my tenancy. I did feel she fought to protect me and my rights. I appreciate that she kept me informed about progress, sending copies of emails with the other side and consulting me when necessary. I appreciated her eye for detail on legal matters and how she stood firm against a somewhat tricky opposing solicitor.”

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    • “Shilpa was very thorough in the advice she provided and I was immediately put at ease with her involvement. She works hard to achieve the agreed objective and I very much appreciate her help in my matter.”

      Laurence Dumenil, London

    • “Shilpa was very diligent in her attention to detail and her pursuit of all necessary documentation; she showed great determination in the face of many requests by the other party’s solicitor to let certain things slide. She was thorough and professional which gave us a great sense of security.”

      Oliver Forder, Managing Director, Tank Form Limited

    • Shilpa really helped us take charge of the situation and helped resolve this property dispute. I would not hesitate to recommend her or the team to anyone in a similar situation.

      David A, Trustpilot Review

    • On first meeting Shilpa I was sure that she understood immediately my requirements, and was sympathetic both to my financial restraints and my emotional state. She achieved everything I asked of her and proved to be invaluable, professional and efficient

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    • Shilpa has helped us through some key property litigation matters (residential and commercial) since 2014 and has delivered on every occasion. One particular issue had kept us in a state of stress and tension for almost a decade and after getting in touch with Shilpa she was able to help us bring the matter to a peaceful and successful conclusion.

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