Rights of light construction

Many properties in England and Wales will enjoy a right to light over their neighbours’ land. The discipline known as ‘rights to light’ deals with advice concerning whether a proposed obstruction (for example, an additional storey on a building) is likely to interfere with a neighbour's natural light into their property. If the neighbour does enjoy a right to light it is only to such an amount as is 'sufficient for ordinary needs’.

A right to light is usually gained through the passage of time but in some circumstances may be created by an express statement or implied such as where an owner disposes of part of their land for development.

A rights to light consultant combines their knowledge of the law, particularly of easements and the tort of nuisance, with an understanding of the mathematical basis of measurement of skylight entering a room. It helps also if they are skilled negotiators. The rights to light consultant uses their combined knowledge of the law and the mathematics to advise developers (and neighbours) as to the risks and options available. No consultant would categorically state whether or not the remedy of injunction would be available but they offer an opinion based on current case law. The rights to light consultant will provide an opinion, where appropriate, on the likely level of damages that might be awarded but this too is qualified and given on the basis of current case law. Frequently the consultant will be able to provide suggestions on how proposed schemes can be modified in order to reduce or to overcome potential problems.

This section is maintained by James Hargreaves of calfordseaden LLP.

Related content

RICS standards: Rights of light

Checklist: Right of light dispute checklist

RICS journal article: Introduction to rights to light