The amount of light your home receives can make a significant difference to your enjoyment of any particular room. Where that light becomes obstructed, or you find out about a new development that could obstruct that light, it is understandable to be concerned and to want to take action to protect your right to light.
In such circumstances, it is important to understand your legal position and the options available to you to protect your right to light. Finding a solution can be challenging, requiring the balancing of various interests and a deep understanding of the relevant legal principles.
If you have a concern about your right to light, or are involved in a dispute with another property owner over these issues, getting specialist legal advice is usually the only way to achieve a positive outcome.
Housing and Property Law Partnership (HPLP) offers a high level of specialist expertise in all areas of property law, with this being the sole focus of our firm. We can quickly and accurately assess your legal position and talk you through your options in plain English. That way, you will quickly know what action you can take and make an informed decision over how you want to proceed.
We recognise how frustrating and stressful these kinds of property issues can be, so we will aim to make things easier by focusing on good communication and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) wherever possible. This approach means we can usually find a fair solution that protects your interests without the need for unnecessary conflict.
If you need expert advice on a right to light issue, please contact Mark Eaton.
DEALING WITH A RIGHT TO LIGHT DISPUTE
Advice on your right to light
Before raising an issue with your neighbour or a property developer, it is important to be clear whether your right to light has been breached. Our property disputes solicitors will be happy to review your situation and refer you to relevant specialists, such as property surveyors, to assess whether your right to light has been infringed or is likely to be infringed by a proposed development.
Raising the issue
Your best options for raising an issue and defending your right to light will depend on the situation.
If you have been contacted about a Light Obstruction Notice (LON) in relation to a proposed new building that could affect your right to light, you will need to register an objection as soon as possible.
If your right to light has been impacted by a new building that has already been constructed, you will need to contact the property owner or developer to register your intention to make a claim if the matter is not satisfactorily resolved. This is usually done through a ‘letter before action’ which our property disputes solicitors will be happy to draft for you.
There is often the need for negotiation between parties to resolve a right to light dispute. This can be much faster and less costly than court proceedings, as well as being less stressful and allowing you to maintain a more positive relationship with the other parties involved.
Our team can advise and represent you during negotiations, helping to keep the process constructive and giving you the best chance of a positive outcome that protects your interests.
Where a positive outcome cannot be agreed amicably, it may be necessary to take the matter to court. Our property disputes team will advise you on where this is likely to be your best option and can assist with preparing your case and providing representation for you for any court hearings that are required.
RIGHT TO LIGHT FAQS
What does right to light mean?
Generally, a right to light is the right to receive light over another person's land to particular windows in a building. It is the right to receive sufficient natural light through windows to allow a building to be used for its ordinary purpose. The right is enjoyed by the land rather than through any particular window.
Your land will generally have the right to light if it has received light from the relevant direction for at least 20 years.
When I can make a right to light claim?
Broadly, a claim will arise if the result of an obstruction is such that it will leave less than 50 percent of the affected room adequately lit. This can be in relation to a new development or planned development, as well as trees, hedges and anything else that blocks light to your land.
Rights to light are increasingly being claimed by property owners seeking to obtain compensation from developers intending to develop the neighbouring land.
Do I have a right to light in my garden?
The right to light only applies to rooms in your house, not open ground, so you will not ordinarily be able to make a claim for the right to light in your garden.
What is the 45-degree rule?
Council planning departments often use what is known as the ’45-degree rule’ when deciding whether a proposed new building will block reasonable light to a neighbouring property.
The rule is based on drawing an imaginary horizontal line at 45-degrees from the mid-point of any window the light to which could potentially be blocked by the new building. If the line intersects with the new proposed new building, then this suggests light to the window will be blocked.
However, while the 45-degree is often used in planning decisions, it is not an accepted legal right, so should not be used as the basis for a right to light dispute. Instead, you are likely to have grounds for a right to light claim if the area of the affected room receiving light from at least 0.2% of the sky is reduced to less than 50%.
What is a Light Obstruction Notice?
Under the Rights of Light Act 1959, anyone planning a development can register a Light Obstruction Notice (LON) with the relevant local authority. The registering party will need to include a plan showing the property or properties whose light will be affected by the proposed property and they will need to notify the owners of any such properties.
If no affected party registers a challenge to the LON within a year, then their right to light will be considered void. Should you be notified of a LON with respect to your property, it is therefore important to register any objections you have as soon as possible.
How can I protect my right to light?
Restrictive covenants can be imposed on land by a seller to prevent a buyer from using it in a way which the seller considers harmful to his or her retained land. Issues that arise in dealing with restrictive covenants include enforcement, who has the benefit and burden, and modification of the covenant to allow a development to proceed.
WHY CHOOSE HPLP FOR ADVICE ON A RIGHT TO LIGHT DISPUTE?
As a boutique law firm specialising exclusively in property law, we have strong expertise in even the most niche legal matters relating to property.
With decades of experience across our team, we can offer seasoned advice on the best way to deal with issues connected to right to light. Over the years, we have learned what works and how to resolve even the most challenging disputes smoothly and cost-effectively while getting the right result for you.
If you are involved in a dispute with a neighbour over a right to light or any other issues, we can offer strong expertise in property dispute resolution. Our team are highly skilled in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) so can often resolve these disputes out of court. However, we also have strong court expertise, meaning we can provide the best possible representation where more robust action is required.
GET IN TOUCH WITH OUR EXPERT PROPERTY LAWYERS IN LONDON
For experienced, expert advice on a right to light issue, please contact Mark Eaton.