Party walls and rights to light disputes

The firm’s ‘very committed’ team demonstrates ‘strong commercial acumen’.

The Legal 500
Real Estate

Our real estate litigation team has many years of practical experience advising clients on issues arising from party wall and rights to light disputes. Both are extremely technical areas of the law which are likely to be relevant to any development in a built up area.

We have a detailed understanding of the problems which can occur and regularly assist developers and property occupier clients. Home owners are increasingly choosing to ‘improve rather than move’, which has led to a significant increase in the number of basement excavations and extensions as they look to maximise the square footage of their home.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 offers a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and also excavations near neighbouring buildings. If proposed building works are covered by the Act, owners must give their neighbours notice of their intentions following the procedures set out in the legislation. Adjoining owners can agree or disagree with what is proposed. This process is separate from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval.

Rights to receive light over another person’s land through particular windows will generally cover sufficient natural light for comfortable or beneficial use of the property depending on whether this is for commercial or domestic purposes. As a broad rule, a right of action for breach of an easement of light will arise if the obstruction will leave less than 50% of the affected room adequately lit.

Rights of light are frequently acquired by 20 years’ uninterrupted enjoyment but time will not start to run where any light is enjoyed with the consent of the neighbouring property owner.

We offer expert advice on:

  • adverse possession / trespass
  • development agreement and joint venture disputes
  • restrictive covenants and overage disputes
  • negotiations to achieve early settlement

Recent work highlights

Extension plan rethink

Managing a dispute concerning the development of a neighbouring property for a residential owner. We reviewed previous advice from rights to light surveyors and persuaded the neighbour to consider an alternative layout which complied with a restrictive covenant and avoided blighting our client’s site.

A firm line on title disputes

Advising a homeowner on title disputes including unauthorised oversailing by a neighbour, challenges to prescriptive rights and building works constructed outside the title envelope.

Timely intervention

Assisting in stalled negotiations over a party wall which had delayed a residential redevelopment. We persuaded the adjoining owner that the matter could be settled through a ‘synthetic’ party wall agreement under which an expert would be appointed to resolve ongoing issues.

Related expertise

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP