Right to Light Explained

8 Jun 2022 | James Mayall
right to light

Table of Contents

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’.

For example, the neighbouring property owner is not allowed to substantially interfere with that right 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 it.

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:

  • The Prescription Act of 1832 gives you the right to sufficient natural light entering your property. The property must have enjoyed 20 years of 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 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 have started to block the light that has naturally entered your home for many years.

You may find that the neighbours are 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 defend 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 light loss or the anticipated light reduction. We can then advise you on the best strategy we should adopt.

In serious deprivation of your light, we will not hesitate to formally request the obstruction’s removal. 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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