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High Court Analyses ‘Right to Light’ in Landlord and Tenant Dispute

Parking Sign and FlatsThe so-called ‘right to light’ came under High Court analysis in a landlord and tenant dispute triggered by a head leaseholder’s plans to accept compensation from a developer in respect of loss of daylight to a block of 20 flats.

The head leaseholder and the freeholder of the block were concerned that a large mixed-use development that was under construction on adjoining land would result in a reduction of sunlight. The head leaseholder sought a declaration from the Court that it was entitled to accept compensation that had been offered by the developer in respect of loss of light.

The freeholder, however, argued that such an acceptance would be a breach of a clause in the lease that forbade the head leaseholder from granting permission for any encroachment on the freeholder’s rights, or permitting any easement to be acquired that might be, or become, an annoyance or inconvenience to the freeholder, or otherwise damage the freeholder’s interests.

In upholding the freeholder’s arguments and refusing to grant the declaration, the Court found that the right to light formed part of the leased premises. Any actionable interference with that right would amount to an encroachment as defined by the lease. In the circumstances, acceptance of the compensation offer by the head leaseholder would be a grant of permission for an encroachment that would be contrary to the freeholder’s rights.