HOMEOWNERS can get their neighbour's sheds, fences and extensions removed – or even claim compensation under little-known rules
You can take action if a new development or existing structure blocks natural light entering your home.
It all comes down to a homeowner's so-called Right to Light.
Under the rule, if more than half of a room in your home is lit by natural daylight, which will be blocked by your neighbour's building work, you can take legal action.
Any kind of new development that obstructs the light can be challenged, according to a new guide by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
That includes sheds, garden walls, extensions, new housing or commercial buildings.
If the developer hasn't taken your right to light into consideration, you could have a case for compensation.
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Alternatively, you might be able to negotiate changes to the building or structure that's blocking your light.
According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), home extensions are a common cause of this type of dispute.
This is because homeowners may employ a local building firm to extend their property without realising it could affect their neighbours.
The most common problem is where the neighbour has a window on the side of their house which is then blocked by a new wall, RICS said.
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On a small building project, such as an extension, people rarely employ a right to light specialist – so the first they know of a problem is when they receive a letter from their neighbour’s solicitor
We explain what you can do if your neighbour is blocking natural light.
How can I challenge a neighbour's development?
If a new or existing structure is blocking light from entering your home, you have a right to challenge it.
The first thing you should do is have a word with your neighbour – they might not realise the impact it has on your home.
If they're unwilling to reach an agreement, you have the right to take legal action – but bear in mind that this can be expensive.
First you could try a mediation service, which acts as a neutral third-party to help opposing sides find a compromise.
RICS has set up a Neighbour Disputes Service to negotiate agreements between homeowners.
If you decide to take further action, you'll need to hire a professional right to light specialist who can assess the impact of the development.
If you raise the issue before construction starts, the need for natural light can be taken into account and avoid court action and solicitors.
But even if building work is finished, neighbouring homeowners can raise a right to light claim for compensation or alterations, so long as evidence is submitted.
If it gets as far as the courts judges can award either financial compensation or order alterations to restore natural light.
The amount of compensation available will vary depending on the situation.
It's not just right to light issues that can spark neighbour disputes.
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One woman was furious when her neighbour painted her front door without permission – and then asked for money.
This homeowner was worried about damage when the people next door built a shed that touched her property.
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