RIGHTS OF LIGHT
A right of light is a right of a property to receive light through a window or other opening. An example of possible interference with rights of light would be the development of a low-level property so that it obstructs the light to an adjoining property. Rights of light can be acquired in a number of ways but perhaps the most common is by prescription, in other words enjoyment of light for at least 20 years. The usual remedies available for breach of a right of light are an injunction and damages.
We have considerable experience of advising on rights of light issues, including advice about whether a right exists; if so, who has the benefit of it; bringing and defending proceedings for an injunction and damages (including acting in two of the leading cases reported in recent years); registering and objecting to the registration of light obstruction notices; and advising on local authorities’ powers to override a right of light. We can also recommend experienced rights of light surveyors.
A common feature of developments currently taking place in London is that developers are approaching neighbouring owners and occupiers with offers to settle potential claims. As well as offering compensation for infringement a developer will usually offer to pay the adjoining owners’ legal and surveying costs. We are regularly involved in these transactions in negotiating and completing deeds of release of rights to light.