Receiving a Letter From Developers About Right to Light

It is fairly common practice, particularly with larger development projects, that if a developer has already assessed potential right to light impact on neighbouring properties, that they will write to the neighbours they feel may have a potential problem, to try and resolve such matters amicably.

This may be of their own doing, or it may be because their funder or insurer has asked told them they need to iron out any potential risks to the project. In such situations, the developer will want to check that their scheme will not cause you any loss of light, and if it is found that it will impact your property, they will want to rule out risk to their project, especially the risk of a potential injunction being pursued against them. If a loss of light to a certain level is found, they will normally wish to offer you some monetary compensation, to avoid you trying to pursue the injunction route.

As it is in the developers’ interest to eradicate such risks to their projects, it is normal for them to write to a neighbour to open up some dialogue. They may simply offer a sum of money as compensation. More often, they will first ask if their appointed surveyor can visit your property to do some internal measuring. After this, they will refine their computer model, and thereafter calculate results that show the light levels in your rooms as existing, and how they will be after their proposed development. Assuming the loss of light is of a certain level, then compensation may be offered.

The developers usually recognise that an offer of compensation to a neighbour may mean nothing to a layperson. As a neighbour, how do you know the developer’s surveyor has measured and modelled your property correctly? How do you know they have modelled the proposed development correctly? Is the compensation figure offered fair and reasonable? Normally, a neighbour will have no idea what level of compensation might be reasonable or not.

It is for this reason that developers usually write to neighbours and offer to pay the reasonable fees for you the neighbour, for a surveyor of your choice, so that your appointed surveyor can do the necessary checks on your behalf, and report to you independently. We can do this for you.

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    How can we help?

    • We will carry out internal measuring of your affected rooms. This exercise is often carried out with the developer’s surveyor present so that measurements can be agreed upon.
    • We will carry out some external measuring using a total station device to check relative sizes, positions and heights of your windows with existing and proposed obstructions to daylight.
    • We will carry out checks of the developer’s CAD model against the planning application drawings.
    • We will carry out CAD re-modelling as necessary for us to run our software analysis of the loss of light
    • We shall consider whether the layout modelled by the developer is appropriate, and if alternative room layouts may be a possibility, we shall discuss this with you, and the impact this may have on a claim.
    • We will report our findings to you including results for the loss of light and our opinion of the general extent of the ‘Book Value’ figure for the likely diminution in value of your home as a result of the loss of light if a legal injury is found
    • We will advise in general terms with regards to any offer of compensation (from the developer) plus options available to you

    Our fees for the above would be paid by the developer, and we would liaise with them to obtain an undertaking from them to pay our fee. Our report will be confidential to you; the developer will not see our report. We will act for you impartially; you will be our client, just as if you were paying our fees. Of course, we don’t assume you settle for compensation; depending upon the extent of light losses to your property, you may prefer to pursue an injunction.

    Do you take a % of my compensation?

    No. We are aware of some firms that approach neighbours to developments offering to represent them in return for a % share of any compensation gained. This only works of course if you are happy with a monetary settlement!

    We do not operate on this basis, because surveyors who act for a neighbour will get their reasonable fees paid for by the developer! Any compensation due to a neighbour should be just that, compensation PLUS costs for surveyors and solicitors fees.

    Your compensation should not be diminished by giving a % to a surveyor, as they will already have been paid for their time by the developer.

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    “I have worked with Smith Marston and in particular Adrian Marston on a number of rights of light matters and have always found his knowledge of this specialist area to be first class. This coupled with Smith Marston’s very high service standards have enabled us to secure some excellent results in taking preventative action to safeguard legal rights that would otherwise have been infringed. One particular example involved taking steps to require a development to be halted and, ultimately, reversed, primarily on the evidence contained within Adrian’s report as to current and potential future losses. Adrian’s reports cut through a lot of the complicated jargon often used in these matters and presents the information necessary to take effective action in a clear and logical way. I would not hesitate in recommending him.”

    James Beat, Partner, Child & Child
    “I used Smith-Marston for a Right to Light matter in 2015. A neighbour to my mother had planning permission for a two-storey extension close to her bungalow. Adrian’s assessments showed that her natural light, in some key areas of the house, would be reduced from 65% to 18% because of the development. Adrian’s dealings with the very determined neighbour and his equally determined surveyor were always polite, professional, and VERY effective. As a result, the planned extension was reduced to a single-storey with little or no effect on Right to Light. Very satisfied and grateful.”
    Gus Gresham, Party Wall Surveyor
    “Dear Adrian, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your team for such an efficient proactive survey, and invaluable advice. We are delighted our neighbours have started to remove their first-floor extension, work is almost complete. Hopefully going forward we will not need such a service but if we did we would not hesitate in using your company again and would certainly recommend you to all. Thanks again.”
    Mrs C, Cheshire
    “Dear Mr Smith, we remain very grateful to you for your professional advice but also would like to thank you and your colleague Adrian Marston for your many kindnesses and patience when clarifying technical and legal issues. We greatly appreciate your help and support, without which we doubt that we would have persisted this far.”
    Mrs H, Hull
    “I instructed Adrian as an expert in a Right to Light case involving commercial property in Newcastle. Adrian’s specialist knowledge of this field, attention to detail and commercial advice were invaluable in achieving a good outcome for my client.”
    Ursula Collie, Ursula Collie Mediation
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