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Right of Light Overview

Posted 10 Oct 2016   By Easton Bevins

The Right itself is in relation to direct light from the sky. There is no right to sunlight or specific views from a certain window within a building. The Right is regardless of seasons or changes in weather as it centres on the amount of sky that can be seen from particular windows of an existing building.

The Prescription Act 1832 protects Rights of Light as well as Common Law, adverse possession, in England and Wales. There is no statutory Right to Light in Scotland. Negotiations between those concerned are always encouraged in the first instance, however if a mutual agreement cannot be reached, a surveyor/member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) can assist with the discussions/investigations. 

Do you have a Right to Light?

A Right to Light is an easement, not an automatic right, which is usually acquired by prescription. The definition provided by the RICS states ‘anyone who has had uninterrupted use of something over someone else’s land for 20 years without consent, openly and without threat, and without interruption for more than a year’ is likely to successfully acquire a Right to Light. 

What can you do to protect your light?

If you suspect a nearby development such as a neighbouring extension, garden wall, obstructing structures etc. will breach your right to light, you can instruct a surveyor to carry out a series of investigations to determine the extent of the proposed impact.

The 50/50 Rule is a general rule of thumb where 50% of the habitable room in a domestic property should be lit by natural light. If a ‘development’ in the environment, has been proposed and you believe this will significantly reduce the light enjoyed by your property you may have grounds to a Right to Light claim.

The claim itself is only actionable when the threshold of nuisance has been met and the reduction in light (proposed or actual) has caused significant negative impact onto the existing building.

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