Rights to light

Rights to light in England and Wales are protected under common law, adverse possession or by the Prescription Act 1832. They apply to anyone who has had uninterrupted use of something over someone else’s land for 20 years without consent, openly and without interruption of more than a year.

Developments which can potentially block the light coming in to the home include; garden walls, part of a new housing or commercial development or a neighbour’s new shed.

If a new building limits the amount of light coming in through a window and the level of light falls below the accepted level, then this constitutes an obstruction.

Law Commission investigation

The Law Commission published a report and draft bill on Rights to Light on 4 December 2014. This followed consultation between February and May 2013. This investigated whether the law by which rights to light are acquired and enforced provides an appropriate balance between the important interests of landowners and the need to facilitate the appropriate development of land.

The final report has many recommendations including, a statutory notice procedure which would allow a landowners to require their neighbours to tell them within a specified time if they intend to seek an injunction to protect their right to light, or to lose the potential for that remedy to be granted and an updated version of the procedure that allows landowners to prevent their neighbours from acquiring rights to light by prescription.

RICS guidance

Case law

Books on rights to light