Right to light – 5 things you need to know

If you live in England or Wales and are extending your home, you must be aware of the right to light and how it will impact your neighbours property. Here are the key things you need to know about the right to light.

1. The right to light act is separate to planning permission

There is a common misconception that once planning permission has been granted, it is no longer necessary to consider the impact on the neighbours’ light. Alternatively, if your extension is within permitted development, you must still consider the impact it will have on your neighbours light.

2. It usually only applies to properties over 20 years

Rights to light are usually acquired after 20 years although tt is sometimes possible for rights to light to be inherited by a new building if there was once and older building that stood in its place with windows in similar positions.

3. There is no paperwork submitted

Unlike planning permission or the Party Wall Act, there is no formal statutory process with regards to the right to light and no official paper work. Instead, if right of light issues need to be addressed, this is normally done between the neighbours and through solicitors or right of light consultants.

4. Your neighbour can object throughout the process

Neighbours can object during the planning and design stage, during the building process, or even once the building works are complete.  However, it is considered that a court is more likely to award compensation instead of an injunction, if the neighbour has delayed in bringing their claim.

5. Your neighbours can take legal action if you ignore their right to light

When you know the impact the extension is causing, you will be in a better place to negotiate with your neighbour.  There are many options that can be used to negotiate from some design changes to reduce the injury impact or financial compensation through to completing some building work for them.

If your neighbours right to light is ignored, you run the risk of an injunction from the neighbour to halt the development/extension and may even have to take the building work down.