What is a Light Obstruction Notice

What is a Light Obstruction Notice?

At Anstey Horne we often advise clients on how to register Light Obstruction Notices to protect the development potential of a site but what is a Light Obstruction Notice?

Acquiring a right to light can occur through several legal mechanisms, primarily prescription following the terms of the Prescription Act 1832, but also through express or implied grants.

What is a Light Obstruction Notice – Acquiring a Right by Prescription

Prescription is the most common method of acquiring a right to light. This process involves the uninterrupted enjoyment of light over a specified period.

Here’s how it works:

Period of Time: Typically, the required period is 20 years. This means that if a property owner has enjoyed uninterrupted access to light through a window for 20 years or more, they may acquire a right to light through prescription.

Uninterrupted Use: The access to light must have been continuous and without any significant interruption. If the light was blocked for a substantial period during these 20 years, the prescription period may reset.

Without Permission: The light must be enjoyed without the explicit permission of the servient landowner (the owner of the land that could potentially obstruct the light). If the servient landowner gives permission, the enjoyment of light does not contribute to the acquisition of a right by prescription.

Legal Doctrine: In the UK, the doctrine of “Prescription Act 1832” supports this method. It provides a legal framework for claiming a right to light after 20 years of uninterrupted enjoyment.

Set against the process to acquire a right to light through prescription over 20 years is the process to prevent acquisition of a right by registering a light obstruction notice.

In this article we set out what is a Light Obstruction Notice.

What is a Light Obstruction Notice?

A Light Obstruction Notice (LON) is essentially a notional obstruction, meaning it is an artificial concept rather than a physical barrier.

Introduced by the Rights of Light Act 1959, it serves as a statutory method to interrupt the passage of light without erecting an actual obstruction.

When daylight passes over one piece of land to a building on another piece of land for 20 years, and that building has an aperture (such as a window), the building’s owner may acquire a right to light.

This is outlined in section 3 of the Prescription Act 1832. If this passage of light remains uninterrupted for 20 years, the property owner can potentially prevent nearby development by seeking an injunction or demanding substantial damages from the developer.

The 1832 Act specifies that if the flow of light is interrupted for one year, no rights will be obtained under this legislation. Developers who plan to construct buildings that might interfere with this right to light can utilize a Light Obstruction Notice to address this issue.

For developers, it is crucial to prevent the acquisition of a right to light by neighboring properties.

If a neighboring building and its apertures have been in place for up to 19 years and one day, applying for a Light Obstruction Notice will prevent the acquisition of such rights and help avoid potential claims.

Besides preventing future claims, developers can also use Light Obstruction Notices strategically to identify possible future claimants.

What is a Light Obstruction Notice and how to get one?

To obtain a Light Obstruction Notice, the developer must submit a formal request to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).

The applicant must provide evidence that anyone with an interest in the affected building has been informed about the proposed registration of the notice.

Once the tribunal is satisfied that adequate notice has been given, it will issue a certificate. This certificate must then be registered as a local land charge with the relevant local authority.

By understanding and using Light Obstruction Notices effectively, developers can protect their projects from delays and legal challenges related to rights to light.

The Land Tribunal fee to issue a certificate enabling the registration of a light obstruction notice is £1,320 plus an additional £330 if a temporary (emergency) certificate is required.

There is also a fee for registering the certificate as a local land charge with HM Land Registry which is £18. Guidance on the HM Land Registry fee can be found here. Registration of a Light Obstruction Notice can now be made online. There’s also some guidance on how to do this on the Govertment’s local land charge website.

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With offices in LondonBirminghamBristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, NorwichPlymouth we provide advice on LONs on sites all around the UK.

For advice on rights to light direct from one of our surveyors, please call our Rights to Light Enquiry Line on 020 4534 3138.

If you’d like us to call you, please fill in our Contact Us form and we will call you back.

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Team members shown:

  • Rebecca Chapman
  • Matthew Grant
  • Matt Hensey

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