‘Right to Light’ analysed in High Court Judgment

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A head leaseholder’s attempt to accept compensation for loss of daylight from a developer led to a dispute with the freeholder.  Both were concerned that a substantial mixed-use development under construction on adjacent land would reduce natural light to a block of 20 flats.

The developer offered compensation to the head leaseholder, who sought a declaration from the Court that it was entitled to accept the payment in respect of loss of light.

The freeholder, however, maintained that acceptance of the compensation would damage its interests. It specifically argued that it 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.

The Court upheld the freeholder’s arguments and refused to grant the declaration, finding that the right to light formed part of the leased premises and any interference with that right would amount to an encroachment as defined by the lease. Acceptance of the compensation offer by the head leaseholder would be, the Court maintained, a grant of permission for an encroachment that would be contrary to the freeholder’s rights.

Metropolitan Housing Limited v RMC FH Co Limited.

Rex Cowell