The General Principles
Case law has determined that a legal right of light can be obtained through a defined aperture in a building.
Generally, a legal right of light is obtained and legal action is taken via the Prescription Act 1832. Section 3 of this Act refers to light in relation to “… any dwellinghouse, workshop or other building”. The Rights of Light Act 1959 similarly refers to these examples of buildings which are capable of obtaining a legal right of light.
Furthermore, expert legal opinion is that it is simply not possible, by any means, for there to be a legal right of light in respect of open land, anything which is not a building and/or anything which does not have defined apertures for light to pass through. This is the starting point for any consideration of what can be capable of obtaining a legal right to light.
Right to Light for Sheds, Garages, Workshops
As already noted, workshops are specifically mentioned in statute and so clearly it seems that a workshop is capable of having a right of light. Similarly, it is generally the case that a shed or garage can obtain a right of light provided that this building has one or more defined apertures through which light can pass to the interior.
What About Right to Light for Caravans and Boats ?
With regards to the possibility of rights of light being possible for enclosed usable spaces/rooms such as within boats and caravans for example, there needs to be consideration of whether they constitute ‘buildings’.
Expert legal opinion suggests that caravans and boats, even if static and never physically moved, probably cannot be regarded as ‘buildings’. If the consideration is expanded to include static mobile homes such as, for example, Park Homes, it is likely that these may be regarded as closer to a building in that, in purpose and usage they are buildings, and they are physically fixed to the ground albeit that they are still capable of being moved.
Thus, although it seems likely that this type of enclosure is probably not capable of having a legal right of light, this does not seem to be certain and it appears that there is some scope for challenge of any such conclusion.
Do Car Ports, Multi-Storey Car Parks have a Right to Light….
A car port, with open sides and/or ends is unlikely to have what would be regarded as defined apertures receiving light and so legal opinion seems to be that it is unlikely, although not certain, that such a structure is incapable of obtaining a legal right of light.
We are not aware of expert legal thinking regarding the possibility of a right of light being obtained in respect of a multi storey car park. But it does seem that it can be regarded as a building and it can have defined apertures in the external faces of the ‘building’ which permit the passage of light. On this basis, it must be likely that it could be successfully argued that a multi-storey car park is capable of having legal rights of light.
Do Greenhouses have a Right to Light?
Past case law precedent states that greenhouses are capable of obtaining a legal right of light and that, in fact, a greenhouse is an example of a building which it could be argued would be entitled to an extraordinary right of light, thus an amount of light in excess of the ‘normal’ amount of light used in respect of legal right of light considerations.
How can Smith Marston help?
Our experienced team can help with regards to carrying out a right to light assessment where necessary, help you understand if you have a legal right to light, as well as, can carry out a daylight and sunlight assessment where needed.
If you’re unsure whether your building has a right to light, contact us to discuss your case with our team.