Or, you may own, or lease a commercial property. You have lovely offices, with well-lit meeting rooms, a welcoming entrance hall and staircase, and a nice, naturally lit reception – all currently pleasant and welcoming to your staff and clients. And now all that is in jeopardy.
Your neighbours wish to build a new development close to your building. This may be a whole new building, or perhaps an extension to their existing building. You are concerned about the loss of light to your rooms. You wonder how this will impact upon your enjoyment and use of your rooms, and are concerned about the loss of value and/or impact upon marketability to your property.
Whist your neighbours will have their own reasons for wishing to develop their site/property, you clearly would like to ensure your home, or commercial property is protected against adverse impact from the loss of light.
We understand. Even if a neighbouring scheme manages to gain planning permission, all may not be lost. Outside of planning laws, you may have a legal right to light. There are numerous ways a property can acquire a right to light. Sometimes this is via implied or express grants, often noted in yours and your neighbours title deeds. It is always worth checking these documents to see if you may have some form of protection via this route.
However, the most common way for a property to have a Right to Light is by having gained it via The Prescription Act 1832. To acquire this right, in very simple terms, your window openings need to have been present (and unobstructed) for 20 years. If your window openings are not quite yet 20 years old, but have been there for 19 years and 1 day, or more, you will acquire a right to light at Year 20.