Received a letter about rights to light?

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Developer’s Surveyor’s Letter

You might have received an unexpected letter from a developer’s surveyor seeking access to your property to carry out a right of light assessment. 

This situation usually arises where a developer has been advised that a development might interfere with your right of light.   The developer, through their surveyor, will usually seek to assess the light levels, and, if an injury is identified, seek to reach an agreement with you.  The agreement could involve changes to the design and or compensation/damages.

Since conduct of the parties is a relevant factor in right of light disputes, we do not recommend withholding access to your property.  However, care needs to be taken with how you respond to a developer’s surveyor’s letter.  To best protect your interests, it is often necessary to open separate lines of open and without prejudice correspondence.  This is something we will be happy to handle on your behalf.

Services for those affected by development

Speculative letter

You might have received a speculative letter from a company offering to secure you compensation for your loss of light.  

They will likely have obtained your details by searching recent planning applications and identifying your property as one that might have its right of light affected. 

With over 20 years of experience and proven track record, we are confident we can achieve a better outcome to your case.  While nearly all cases are resolved out of court, one thing that sets us apart is our strong national reputation, through acting as expert witness in a number of landmark legal cases.  Therefore, we are a credible authority in the industry and wholly focused on our clients’ best interests.

If you have received a speculative letter, and would like to find out how we can help, please do get in touch today. 

 

How we can help

If you have received a letter about rights to light, you are likely to be one of a number of neighbours affected by a relatively large development. 

In this situation, the developer has usually already appointed a right to light surveyor which can make dealing with the matter more straightforward.  Typically, we will secure your interests as follows:

We will begin by:

  • Reviewing your freehold title and any leases to confirm that your property benefits from a right of light. We will also review the development proposals to gain an understanding of the effect it may have on your property.
  • Formalising Right of Light Consulting’s appointment.

Loss of light in right of light cases is assessed using computer modelling and specialist surveying software. To ensure the assessments are accurate, it is usually necessary to undertake internal measured surveys of the affected properties. If accurate building plans are available, these can sometimes be used in the analysis. However, a site visit will still typically be undertaken to verify the accuracy of the plans and to identify any internal alterations which may have taken place. We would endeavour to meet with the developer’s surveyor so we can agree on the measurements during the visit.

The usual protocol is for the developer’s surveyor to produce computer modelling and a corresponding right of light analysis based on the internal measured surveys of the affected properties.

We will carry out detailed checks on the computer model provided by the developer’s surveyor. If necessary, we will engage with the developer’s surveyor to get them to correct any errors and update the right of light analysis.

Where possible, we will explore alternative approaches to the analysis with the aim of strengthening the case. For example, the law sometimes enables the affected party to have the light assessed not only on the current layout of their property, but also based on possible future alterations.

The starting point for any negotiation is usually that the affected party has a right to the light itself. For this reason, right of light negotiations sometimes involve changes to the development design. Where a party does agree to sell their right of light, this can sometimes result in a significant sum of compensation.

To achieve an optimal outcome, we will explore a range of aspects including:

  • Consideration of whether the case is one which would likely entitle the affected parties to an injunction.
  • Calculation of how much the development would need to be cut back by to avoid a right of light injury.
  • Uplifted book value compensation assessment (the book value is the value of the light taken away).
  • Share of development profit compensation assessment. Sometimes, the affected parties are entitled to claim a share of development profit pertaining to the part of the development that causes the right of light injury. Usually this will be factored into the compensation by way of an uplift to the book value assessment.
  • Consideration of compulsory purchase powers at the developer’s or local authority’s disposal.
  • If the affected property is leased or tenanted, this will also need to be considered.

A deed will record the terms of any agreements reached. Please note that if your property is mortgaged, it may be necessary to obtain a mortgagee’s consent before entering into a right of light deed. This is something the solicitor will be able to assist with.

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