What is a Right to Light

A Right to light is an easement allowed for in English law. When it exists, It gives the owner of a building with windows a right to maintain the existing level of illumination. It is based on Ancient Lights law.

Rights of Light may be acquired by ‘anyone who has had uninterrupted use of something over someone else’s land for 20 years without consent, openly and without threat, and without interruption for more than a year.’

A landowner’s right to light is protected under common law, adverse possession and in England and Wales by the Prescription Act 1832.

The most common reason for a Rights to Light claim is where a neighbour extends their home or a larger development on adjacent land is proposed. If the new development is likely to reduce historic rights to light then the adjacent landowner might apply for an injunction to prohibit the proposed development or amend its design. Alternatively, there might be a solution if the owner of land accommodating the proposed development makes a compensatory payment. In some cases the court might impose changes on a completed development, although this is unusual.

The law relating to Rights to Light is a specialist area and if you are proposing a development on your land or there is development proposed on land adjacent to your own, you should consult an expert for initial advice.

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