Is your property over 20 years old and acquired a legal right to light?

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A right of light is a distinct legal entitlement, separate from any rights that you may have under planning legislation.

All types of property can benefit from a right of light including both residential and commercial property.  In contrast to planning rules, rights of light also apply to windows to non-habitable rooms such as WCs and staircases.

While there are some exceptions, rights of light usually exist once windows have enjoyed light for in excess of 20 years.  Whether you are a freeholder or leaseholder, our rights of light experts will be happy to undertake an initial review of your situation to quickly establish whether a right of light may apply. 

Where a development or extension impedes or affects a right of light, you may be able to demand changes to the development design, compensation, or a combination of both. 

It might be that your neighbour has already undertaken a right of light assessment and is willing to engage to resolve the matter once we approach them.  If so, we will take a similar approach as if you had received a letter from the developer offering to undertake a right of light assessment. Click here to find out more. 

Typically, we would expect the developer to undertake the assessments.  However, we are sometimes asked to undertake the assessments on behalf of affected neighbours, including where:

  1. You wish to check you have a case before raising rights of light with your neighbour.
  2. You have approached your neighbour about rights of light but they are not willing to provide an assessment of your property.
  3. You wish to instruct us to undertake an independent rights of light assessment.

To minimise the potential for incurring fees for a full assessment, that doesn’t achieve a favourable result, we breakdown our services into the following three steps:

Step 1: Rights of Light Advice and Case Appraisal Report
  1. Undertake preliminary rights of light due diligence with the aim of confirming that a right of light could potentially apply to your property. This will include an initial review of your title deeds and/or lease to identify any covenants or clauses that have a bearing on your right of light. 
  2. Carry out a desktop review of the development proposal, aerial photography and any other relevant information you can provide about your property. 
  3. Form an opinion on whether the development is likely to infringe your right of light. 
  4. Provide a report setting out our findings.  The report will explain the strength of your case and will identify areas of light loss that we consider could be used to successfully challenge the development.
  1. Undertake a visual check of the existing “no sky line”.  This is a measure of the existing light level which will give us a better indication of how the proposed development might impact your property. 
  2. Undertake a measured survey of the relevant rooms and windows. This will be undertaken using a Leica 3D point cloud scanner, as this provides greater accuracy than using tape measures or digital equivalents.  The survey will form the basis of the calculations in Step 3. 
  1. Produce a 3D computer model using architectural drawings and the survey data from Step 2.  The computer model will be utilised to calculate the before and after light levels necessary to apply the 50:50 rule used to assess rights of light.  We will provide you with a report setting out the results of the calculations and our advice.  The report will also contain contour drawings showing the areas of light loss within the affected rooms.
  2. Engage with your neighbour or the developer to seek to resolve the right of light matter. They may decide to amend the design or offer you compensation to try to get you to give up your right of light.  If you are willing to consider compensation, we can advise you on this, and assist with negotiations. 

Whilst always a last resort, should it be necessary to litigate, our calculation of the light levels can form the basis of an expert witness report.  However, in practice, nearly all right of light cases are resolved out of court and so further expert witness work is usually not required. 

Related Services

Planning Objections >

Compensation Valuation

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Resources for Neighbours

This fact sheet uses simple diagrams to help explain the correct application of the 25 degree and 45 degree rule of thumb planning tests. Read >>

If your light is affected by a development, there are two main avenues you can pursue: Planning and Legal Rights of Light.

Read >>

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