Do property owners have a ‘right to light’?
A property owner does not have an automatic right to light. This can pose a problem where a neighbouring property, or trees and hedges are blocking light from your own land and property.
A property owner may have a legal right to light under their legal title to their property. The official copy of your title should be examined to see if you have such a right to light. This will usually be confined to buildings, but if such a right is interfered with – you may be able to enforce your rights through the courts.
You may also have alternative means of asserting your rights if light is being blocked. For instance, if a property owner’s title documents contain covenants restricting the planting of trees, and a tree is planted blocking the light from your land, you may be able to make a claim for damages – and/or other remedies.
High hedges and trees can cause a particular problem for adjoining property owners where they block light from the neighbouring land. Under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 and the High Hedges Regulations 2005, there is a statutory means of redress through the local authority where a hedge or tree/s is more than 2 metres high.
When does this legislation apply?
The legislation applies to owners and occupiers (for example, tenants) where::
- there are 2 or more trees or shrubs over 2 metres high above ground level and which act as a barrier to light, and
- the reasonable enjoyment of part or all of a property, including a garden or part of a garden, is being adversely affected by a tree or high hedge that is situated on neighbouring land, and
- the land which is being adversely affected is a domestic property
For more information on:
- How does the legislation deal with problems relating to high trees and hedges?
- What might the local authority decide?