On 4 December 2014 the Law Commission published its final report and proposals for reforming the legislation around rights to light.
Brady Solicitors’ right to light specialists look at the proposed reforms.
Currently, the enforcement of a householders’ right to light can result in significant damages being awarded, can stop development of a property in its tracks or even lead to a building being demolished.
If a householder has enjoyed the light uninterrupted for 20 years or more, or the right is detailed in the property’s title deeds, the right to light can be enforced against existing obstructions or new developments.
Landowners may be unaware they are infringing a right to light until the dispute is formally raised, at which time it is often too late.
How is the law regarding right to light going to change?
The aim of the reforms is to improve the balance between the rights of homeowners and their neighbours, and to reduce the need for the extreme measures seen currently. These steps may include:
- A statutory test to clarify when compensation is payable instead of halting development or ordering demolition.
- An update to the rules to allow landowners to prevent neighbours from acquiring the right to light by long use.
- Amendments to when the right to light is treated as abandoned.
A response to the proposals is expected in December 2015.
What will you have to do differently?
In future, notice of a right to light may have to be given as part of the planning process.
If your right to light is likely to be affected by a development, you may have to serve a formal notice of your intention to protect the right to light within a given time or you will not be able to claim that the right to light has been infringed.
The Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal will also be able to alter or remove rights to light that are no longer required.
Do you need help with a right to light issue?
For more in the way of a little light reading, check out the Brady Solicitors Right to Light: Expert View blog piece for more information on the topic.