Rights to Light

Developing a commercial building can take a lot of planning. You and your fellow developers, investors and consultants must scrutinise every step of the planning and building process.

No matter how experienced the members of your team are, they are not infallible. Certain things can slip through the cracks. One small oversight like failing to consider neighbouring buildings’ ‘rights to light’ could cost your company millions of pounds.

Constructing a building that infringes on neighbouring properties’ rights to light-that is, it obstructs their sunlight-can lead to large out-of-count settlements or a halt to construction, or even to demolition. Spare yourself this costly mistake-continue reading for information about rights to light and learn to assess your risk before your building goes up.

What is it?

A ‘right to light’ is an easement that gives landowners the right to receive light through defined apertures in buildings on their land. Landowners cannot violate their neighbours’ rights to light-for example, they cannot erect a building in a way that blocks the light-without their neighbours’ consent.

Rights to light apply to all properties which have received natural daylight for more than 20 years. The easement assures land owners either that their qualifying buildings will continue to receive natural light, or that they will be awarded compensation for their buildings’ loss of light.

Especially in more congested cities, rights to light can save a property from languishing in the shadows from surrounding buildings, thereby retaining its value, utility and appearance.

If a proposed, partially built or completed property is found to violate neighbours’ rights to light, those neighbours may be able to successfully halt in-progress construction or even demolish an existing building. When a court does not order demolition, the developers may be forced to pay large out-of-court settlements to any neighbours left in the dark.

The outcomes of right to light disputes are not always clear from the outset. Although most neighbours will have their price for settlement, they are not obligated to negotiate and may have a right to injunction. Claimants may forego a settlement in order to file an injunction against your property. Leaving the fate of your large, expensive property on shaky ground.

Consider Rights to Light Insurance

To avoid any uncertainty and ensure your developments are not brought down by neighbouring properties’ rights to light, consider a bespoke rights to light policy. Rights to light policies can cover legal costs in addressing claims against your business, settlements or damages awarded, demolition or rebuilding costs and any loss in land value.

Rights to light insurance is very specialised, requiring an expert broker and underwriter to tailor the policy to your business’ specific needs. The insurance professionals at Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers have the expertise to help address your rights to light issues. Count on us to keep you out of the dark.