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A Right to Light

Many people who move house do so with a view to improving their new property, but whilst planning permission is usually required for anything but the smallest extension, few people consider a potential claim against them for ?loss of light?.

The right to light in the UK goes back centuries and light blocking can be classified as a ?nuisance? alongside noise and air pollution. Typical offenders would include a new extension, garage, or shed. Even a tall hedge can be a problem and although not currently covered by existing right to light law, may soon be included in new legislation.

If a new building limits the amount of light coming through a window and the level of light inside falls below the legal minimum, then this constitutes a ?nuisance? and legal action can be taken. Rule of thumb states that just over half the room should be lit by natural light. This minimum standard is equivalent to the light from one candle, one foot away. So the effect of the ?shadow? really needs to be quite severe for there to be a case.

So if you are thinking about building an extension, or you are worried about the effects of a future development on your property, it might be worth talking to your neighbour first and agreeing terms, or even a waiver of right to light, amicably. Alternatively, there are several right to light specialists in the UK and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also publishes helpful information on their website at

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