Rights of Light

A right of light is an easement that allows landowners to enjoy natural light that passes over neighbouring land and enters their building through defined apertures such as windows, skylights and glass roofs. Such an easement is a private property right which can prevent neighbours from materially obstructing natural light.

However, a right of light:

  • is not a right to direct sunlight;
  • does not guarantee uninterrupted views;
  • does not protect a property from being overlooked nor does it safeguard privacy.

Once the right of light has been acquired (providing it has not been extinguished or otherwise lost), you can bring a claim for the interference with that right if a neighbouring development is obstructing the light to your property to the extent that it amounts to a nuisance.

I am a Partner at Naylor Solicitors, a law firm specialising in property disputes and resolution. I would be delighted to assist with any queries you may have. Please get in touch to arrange a no obligation consultation.

Dominika Libova
Partner

How do you obtain rights of light?

There are several methods by which a property may acquire the right of light.

The law of prescription presumes that the right of light has been granted to those who have benefited from natural light through an aperture for more than 20 years without interruption and consent to claim to have acquired it. 

The right of light can also be acquired by express grant, or by an implied grant which can be granted in a transfer or a lease. Many modern buildings may also be capable of acquiring the right of light through the principle of transfer, where it may be possible to show coincidence between the new apertures and the historic ones. 

We can advise you on whether you have acquired the right of light, and provide expert legal advice on your remedies if that right has been interfered with.

Do I have a claim if my rights of light have been interfered with?

Once the right of light has been acquired (providing it has not been extinguished or otherwise lost), in order to bring a claim for the interference with the right to light you need to establish that:

  • A neighbouring development has obstructed the passage of natural light to your property; and
  • The reduction in light has caused substantial interference with your reasonable enjoyment of the property, to the extent that it amounts to a nuisance.

The amount of reduction in light will be based on lumens, a historical measurement for the illumination produced by a 1-foot candle over an area of one square foot. Whether a right of light case can be taken to court is based on the amount of light reduction by this measure, the area of the room, and the function of the space, an assessment for which a rights of light surveyor is needed.

If successful, you may have recourse to a variety of remedies:

  • An injunction to prevent, modify or demolish the development;
  • Damages to compensate you for your loss.

If you are seeking damages, we can help you find a reliable rights of light surveyor and assist you with formalising settlement discussions in the deed of release. If you are seeking an injunction, we can advise you upon the claim, prepare court proceedings and represent you in the litigation.

What do developers need to do?

Developers need to complete a risk assessment for the potential right of light claims before the development works begin to avoid:

  • ending up with an injunction ordering them to demolish the building (or part of it); or
  • being ordered to pay damages in lieu of an injunction.

The damages developers may have to pay could be considerable because they can be based on the percentage of their profit that would be generated by allowing them to retain the building that continues to interfere with the right of light. It is therefore imperative that developers seek expert advice from specialist surveyors and solicitors from the outset.

Developers’ options include:  

  • Preventing neighbours from obtaining rights of light by serving a light obstruction notice;
  • Negotiating formal releases from neighbours who already have acquired the right of light;
  • Taking out a special insurance policy for rights of light.

Additionally, for large developments in the public interest, developers can apply to the local planning authority to exercise their statutory power under section 203 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to override rights of light. However, this is a last resort because it involves transferring ownership to the local planning authority.

We can prepare and serve a light obstruction notice on behalf of developers and assist with formalising settlement negotiations in the deed of release.  

We’re with you, every step of the way.

We’re here to guide you through the intricacies of litigation, resolve disputes efficiently, and help you achieve your outcome.

Testimonials

Our team is composed of dedicated and accomplished legal professionals, each bringing their unique expertise to the table.

Violeta Korkucyte
Violeta Korkucyte
21/05/2024
I am very happy with the service provided by Dominika Libova who helped me out with both my housing and allotment issues. Dominika was very professional, knowledgeable and understanding. I am grateful for all support and understanding received. I highly recommend Dominika and I will certainly continue using Naylor Solicitors services, should again there will be any need. Thank you so much! Kind regards, Violeta Korkucyte
Xuan Xing
Xuan Xing
06/05/2024
I used Naylor as my solicitor in my possesion claim case. It was very complicated due to a rent-to-rent and defaulting agent case with changing solicitors in the past. Jenny and Dominika provided top-notch services along the way and helped me finally regained the property. They gave legal advices truly in client's interest and explained things in details. I would highly recommend you using them esp. when you face a complicated case.
shaz
shaz
15/04/2024
Hi, My landlord posted an arrears repayment request letter (for my commercial property) to my old residential address where I haven't lived for over 20 years. To make things worse, some of my estranged family out of spite 'sat on the letter and never told me'. When my sick father found out he told me but by that time it was too late and my landlord had then tried 'to dig up a old expired lease clause' to evict me instead. I contacted the landlord and instructed Naylors to help me, as I have used them previously without any problems. I had an excellent service and outcome before and this time felt I was in very safe hands. However my landlord served me a 'forfeiture of lease and claimed repossession. Distraught Naylors saved the day and I am delighted, relieved and very grateful to say the landlord has given my keys back to me today, (within 48hrs of Naylors contacting them on my behalf) and I am back in my shop. Thank you so so much James, Jonathan, Jasper, Gurcharan and the whole team at Naylors, you guys are fantastic! keep up the amazing work. best wishes shabana x
Relinda Howard
Relinda Howard
04/04/2024
I take this opportunity of thanking Dominika for her expertise and professionalism. She certainly made my experience of this situation more pleasant . She appears to be a person of strength and determination. When it is time to be firm she can be. Thanks for her perseverance in completing what she started. Relinda.
Mark Genney
Mark Genney
22/03/2024
I have to say Naylor went the extra mile, my case must have lasted 5 years or so. I'm very happy with the amount of professionalism and talent that Naylor brought to this.
BB Roy
BB Roy
12/03/2024
This specialist, yet unassuming Property Law firm came to my rescue by evicting a tenant in my property who was illegally subletting. At the outset, the principal of the firm - James Naylor set out a very clear forthright approach to get the tenants out by a given date. Then it was all up to a very high impact Solicitor Nida Khan to execute that plan. Nida was diligent and persistent in her manner with the tenants and left them with little scope to manoeuvre other than to surrender the tenancy by the specified date or to face imminent eviction by court orders. Through out the two week's process - Nida kept me informed, was easy to communicate with and was always reassuring. I am very grateful to Naylor's LLP for their professional service and happy to recommend Nida and her firm as outstanding property law practitioners.
Nurliah Fisher
Nurliah Fisher
21/02/2024
I would like to thanks to all the staff at Naylor Solicitors. They are all very helpful and the most important is for me that’s they are very honest. Wishing them all the best and success with their team work and especially to Dominika, Many thanks for your hard work. Best wishes Nurliah Fisher
Mustafa Kalaycı
Mustafa Kalaycı
21/01/2024
The most honest, hardworking, and fully professional law firm I have encountered or worked with. Despite speaking different languages, they effectively understand you through their interpreters, find the best advisors to assist you, and acquire the necessary information. They create a friendly, family-like atmosphere with a straightforward approach, particularly in litigation expertise. My gratitude goes to all the staff involved, especially James Naylor and Jenny Cheung, for their dedication. Thanks for everything. Mustafa KALAYCI
Pauline
Pauline
12/09/2023
I used Naylor Solicitors to help us purchase our freehold. It wasn't as straightforward as we'd hoped as the previous freeholder and his solicitors were difficult to deal with (not responding to calls or emails etc,) which delayed things. At one point the freeholder threatened to pull out of the sale despite previously agreeing. Our solicitor Adam was swift in his response, reminding the other side that we had a verbal agreement and that they were risking us taking legal action in that regard. He was then able to make sure the sale went through as agreed. I highly recommend Naylor Solicitors.
Ray Allen
Ray Allen
26/04/2023
We have used their services twice and both times we found them to be efficient and responsive. Kept us well informed of all developments throughout the process.