The ‘Right To Light’ planning law is explained here by Waterfords Land following the recent announcement that historic laws which guarantee homeowners the right to enjoy light which comes into their homes could be changed, Steve Sadler, Land Manager at Waterfords Land explains what the law is and what changes could mean for homeowners.
Steve comments: “As the current law stands, as a property owner you can acquire a legal right to a certain amount of daylight and within a home, just over half the room should be lit by natural light.
Broadly speaking, the minimum standard is equivalent to the light from one candle, one foot away. Issues can arise when developments, including neighbour extensions, take place and threaten the entitled amount of light entering a home.”
The question currently is how do you know whether or not your right to light is being affected, and if you think it is, what can you do about it?
Steve continues: “A ‘right to 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 of more than a year. Your ‘right to light’ is protected in England and Wales under common law, adverse possession or by the Prescription Act 1832.
If a new building limits the amount of light coming in through a window and the level of light inside falls below the accepted level, then this constitutes an obstruction. Unless you waive your rights you are entitled to take legal action against your neighbour. Any kind of ‘development’ can potentially block the light coming into your home. For example, a neighbour’s new shed, a garden wall, an extension or part of a new housing or commercial development.
House extensions are a common cause of ‘right to light’ disputes as homeowners may employ a local building firm to extend their property without knowing the development could affect their neighbours. The most common problem that we find is where the neighbour has a window to the side of their house to which the light is blocked by a high wall.”
In revising the laws, Steve confirms that it could leave homeowners in more doubt over their rights to enjoy light ‘which is very important to people’ says Steve.
For further advice on the “right to light” or development issues then please contact Waterfords Land department on 01276 66566.