The rights to light for your property can be hugely important, whether you are conducting business there or the property is your residence.

For business properties, certain levels of light may be required to meet the needs of your commercial enterprise. If your site contains employees, workplace environment regulations require certain working conditions to be maintained, and adequate light is an important aspect of these provisions.

For residential properties, natural light is often seen as a fundamental part of normal and enjoyable domestic life. Without adequate access to light, there may be serious consequences to your use and enjoyment of the property and perhaps even to your health and well-being.

At Luscombe Gray, we recognise how important enforcing your rights as an owner of commercial or residential property can be to your business interests or domestic life. Where these are at stake, we will safeguard and protect your rights or the rights of your business tenaciously, achieving the best possible outcome for you.

Luscombe Gray was founded to give a unique and effective legal service to clients facing property disputes. We take a firm, ethical approach to handling your case – a huge difference from the needlessly antagonistic methods employed by many litigation firms.

If you would like to discuss how Luscombe Gray can help you or your business, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Rights to light as easements

Rights to light are also classed as easements, although it is more common for the term to be applied to rights of way.

Undeveloped land has no overarching right to light. The law is concerned with the light which individual windows receive, rather than the light falling on the land or any building as a whole.

All easements must meet certain requirements in law. The main requirements may are:

  • The easement must benefit one piece of land and burden another separate piece of land. A right to light will benefit the windows (and skylights etc.) on one piece of land by allowing light to reach them, and burden another piece of land with the obligation not to block this light.
  • The two properties must be owned by different people.
  • The right in question must be legally capable of being granted under a deed, and this also requires the easement to afford clear and definite rights.

Rights to light can be created in a number of different ways, although not all of these may be reflected on the Land Registry, or in the title deeds of the land. Rights to light may arise through:

  • A clear express agreement – although this is very unusual in relation to rights to light.
  • Implied agreement – usually arising when parts of a larger piece of land are sold. Certain easements may be implied which are necessary for the enjoyment of the sold property.
  • Long use – If a window has been in place for at least 20 years, a right to light easement may arise.

Building regulations may also operate to prevent construction of buildings which may block light for neighbouring land. Party walls are subject to additional rights to light in the statutory framework concerning them.

In addition, conduct which restricts light for neighbouring land may constitute a nuisance if it is considered an unreasonable use of the land.

The extent of rights to light

The degree of light reduction to windows will be a factor in determining whether a right to light has been infringed. Just because there has been a reduction in the light a window receives will not automatically give justification for legal action.

The general rule is that a right to light will not be breached if there remains enough light left from all sources for comfortable use of the property.

Assessing comfortable use, however, will depend on a number of factors. For commercial property, the threshold is likely to be lower than for residential property. A warehouse will be considered to need less light for comfortable use than a private dwelling, for example. The locality of the land in question will also have a bearing on what standards are reasonable.

This can make it difficult to judge whether rights to light have been infringed. Specialist legal advice from a property litigation solicitor is often crucial to elucidating right to light disputes.

Instructing Luscombe Gray

Luscombe Gray is a boutique commercial and property litigation firm, providing a tailor-made service to each of our clients.

We believe first-class commercial legal support should be available to all. Whether you need advice as an individual, or on behalf of your business – whatever its size – we are more than willing to provide our services and put our specialist skill and knowledge at your disposal.

Your case will be handled by Chris Luscombe personally, so you can be certain that you or your business will be able to call upon the expertise of an experienced commercial and property litigation solicitor. Throughout his career, Chris has helped a wide range of clients with their property disputes, from private clients, to small businesses, national pub companies, and multi-national telecoms giants.

Luscombe Gray is based in the heart of Yorkshire, in Harrogate, with the reach to assist clients across the country.

If you or your business needs legal support on a dispute over rights to light, contact Luscombe Gray for clear, ethical, expert advice.

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