Rights of Light

Rights of Light

What are rights of light?

In England & Wales, a right of light is a right to maintain sufficient levels of light to your property over land belonging to another. It is an easement and can only exist in favour of defined apertures in buildings. Rights to light are mostly acquired by prescription when a building has enjoyed uninterrupted light through its windows for 20 years or more. It can also be acquired by express or implied grant. A right to light prevents the construction of any building which blocks that rightful light to a neighbouring property.

Why do I need a rights of light assessment?

Rights of light is an easement giving landowners right to receive uninterrupted light over neighbouring land into apertures. Violating neighbours’ rights to light can result in a court stopping development in-progress and even ordering the demolishing of an already-completed building or awarding damages in lieu of an injunction. Undertaking a Rights of Light assessment at the very earliest stages of planning and design will let you budget for the potential risk and help you to avoid costly mistakes!

How do rights of light assessments differ from a daylight and sunlight assessment?

Whilst not legally binding, Local Planning Authorities will often request a daylight and sunlight assessment from the scheme’s developer. This is usually to prevent legal action carried out by neighbouring properties if the scheme affects their natural daylight in habitable rooms (i.e. kitchen, bedrooms and living rooms). Rights of light is a legal matter separate to the planning process so parties in question can take legal action if they feel their right to light has been breached. Rights of light can be applied to any room, habitable or not.

Our expertise includes:

  • Pre-acquisition and feasibility studies
  • Development optimisation assessments
  • Detailed technical assessments and strategic advice
  • Scheme cutbacks and area loss calculations
  • Rights of light negotiations for developers or affected neighbours

These services form part of our wider neighbourly matters offering, which also includes party-wall consultancy and over-sailing advice. Neighbourly matters are an integral part of TFT’s Development and Project Consultancy service line. You can see TFT’s Daylight, Sunlight Rights of Light capability statement here and get in touch with the team today.