Right to light issues

Awareness of right to light issues remains, even amongst professionals, fairly low. This often means that developers can incorrectly assume that if planning permission is granted they will not face a claim for a right to light issue. In a commercial property or in a residential home just over half the room should be lit by natural light. 

A right to light will be acquired by anyone who has enjoyed uninterrupted light through an opening (without specific consent, openly and without threat, and without interruption) for more than 20 years. However, there are other ways of gaining a right of light such as by express grant or implied grant. This can mean that a new building can straight away have rights of light without the 20 years criteria.

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Right to light solicitors

Due to the fact that a legal right to light is covered by the Prescription Act 1832, developers must ensure that they carry out a risk assessment of the likelihood of a claim at the outset. Failure to do so could result in compensation being awarded to the ‘injured’ party or far more severe an injunction. In extreme cases, claims have lead to demolition. In a case dating from 2010, the Court ruled that a developer had to demolish the top two floors of a Leeds city centre building, which was complete with tenants. This had an estimated cost of £2.5 million.

We can assist developers by carrying out initial title reviews and risk assessments. We can also assist by helping ensure that you are able to maximise the area for site development by taking into account all the necessary factors including use of natural daylight and solar panel technology. Frequently, we are involved at the later stages when a dispute occurs. Our commercial property law team is supported by our dedicated property litigation team. This gives us the ability to provide you with the best possible advice to limit the likelihood of compensation or an injunction being awarded against you.

In addition to acting for developers in this field we are often appointed by architects and surveyors who need specific legal advice in this field, as well as by commercial property owners/neighbours to a development. Even if only one room is affected by a development a right to light claim can be bought. If you are a commercial property owner, we can help to determine if there is ‘injury’ as a result of a breach of your right to light and if so we can carry this through to negotiating compensation or an injunction on your behalf. 

The importance of seeking expert advice in this specialist field cannot be underestimated, therefore whether you are a developer, a commercial property owner or a professional call us on 0203 816 9303​ for a free, no obligation initial chat with one of our legal advisors to find out how we can assist you.

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