In the dark about light

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the legal issues of establishing a 'right to light' for your property
Rights about light cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
Question: My neighbours recently erected a gazebo, about 10ft by 12ft high, in their garden, and about 3ft away from one of my windows, completely blocking the view and light.

There is plenty of room for the gazebo in the rest of their garden. What can I do?

Answer: Your problem involves rights of light, which is a complex area of law.

Your property may benefit from a right of light from your neighbour’s property, which may have been gained in a number of ways, all based on uninterrupted enjoyment of light, without consent or objection from, or payment to, the owner of the neighbouring property.

The most likely to apply to you is a continuous period of 20 years. If your house was built less than 20 years ago, unless there is a specific grant of light in your deeds, it will not enjoy a right to light.

If it is more than 20 years old, you will have to check the deeds to see if the right was expressly excluded by the original builder/seller. If it was (and this is quite common), your property will not benefit from a right of light. You should ask your solicitor to look at your deeds.

Unfortunately, there is no right to enjoy a view recognised in English law. In certain areas, the erection of a gazebo, other than on a temporary basis, may need planning consent. It would be worth phoning the local planning department to check the position.

Even if you can establish a right to light or obtain assistance from the planners, it is always preferable to come to an amicable arrangement with your neighbours.

What's your problem?


If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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