GA Surveyors Party Wall and Rights of Light Specialists

Image description

Rights of Light


The most common way of acquiring a right to light is by 20 years uninterupted use, although such rights can also be granted by way of a deed. 

For rights of light purposes, a room is considered to be adequately lit if it receives 1 lumen of natural light to between 50-60% of its area, at 850mm above floor height. 

If a new building reduces the natural light to the windows of surrounding buildings, such that some or all of the rooms they serve are no longer adequately lit an actionable injury is likely to be caused.

The legal remedies for such an injury are either granting an injunction to prevent the buillding being built as designed, reducing its bulk and massing to prevent the injury, or awarding compensation. Only a judge can determine which of the two remedies is appropriate. 

GA Surveyors can advise developers of the potential impact of their new development on surrounding properties using 3D CAD.

GA Surveyors can advise neighbours on the impact of new buildings or extensions on the natural light received by the windows of their properties.

This is a link to the RICS consumer guide

Party Wall etc Act 1996

A party wall is one that is shared between owners and either stands astride the boundary between two properties or simply separates one from another. A party fence wall is a ‘garden’ wall that separates two external areas and is sat astride the boundary.

The Party Wall etc Act 1996 covers three types of work, repairs or alterations to a party wall or party fence wall, the construction of new walls on the boundary and excavation work close to neighbouring properties, within 3m and below the depth of the foundations of the neighbouring’ building, or 6m for deep excavations.

A person (or people) who wishes to carry out such work is known in the Act as the ‘Building Owner’ and the affected neighbours are known as ‘Adjoining Owners’.

Where work falls within the scope of the Act it is necessary for a Building Owner to serve notice the Adjoining Owners, who have the option to ‘consent’ to the works. If they do not consent to the works, or do not respond to the notice within 14 days, they are deemed to have ‘dissented’ and be ‘in dispute’ under the Act. Surveyors must be appointed so that the dispute can be resolved by way of a Party Wall Award.

This is a legal document confirming the Building Owner has the right to execute the works and containing the conditions and obligations they must adhere to. For example, the Building Owner is always responsible for making good any damage caused by the works described in the award, or paying suitable compensation, and this is stated in the award. Other obligations may be the requirement to provide temporary support to an Adjoining Owners’ land or building during excavation works, or to weatherproof a party wall that has been exposed to the elements.

The award usually contains a ‘schedule of condition’ which is a record of the condition of the parts of the Adjoining Owners’ property that may be affected by the works. This helps in establishing whether or not damage has been caused by the works described in the award.

A Building Owner planning to undertake works that fall within the scope of the Act should start planning early; notice periods are either 1 or 2 months depending upon the type of work but where complex works are to be undertaken it can take longer than that for an Award to be agreed.

Should the Adjoining Owner dissent to the works, he/she can either concur in the appointment of a single surveyor, the ‘Agreed Surveyor’, or appoint a surveyor to act on their behalf. In either case, the Building Owner is responsible for the reasonable fees of the appointed surveyor(s).

We always advise Building Owners to speak to their neighbours before serving the notice. Neighbours that feel they are being kept informed are far less likely to immediately appoint a surveyor when a notice is served. It is likely that, once the planning application has been submitted, surveyors will write to the neighbours encouraging them to dissent to the notice and appoint them to act on their behalf. You should discuss this with your neighbours and encourage them to ignore such letters and, if they wish to dissent and appoint their own surveyor, to appoint a reputable party wall surveyor, ideally a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS).


For further information on the Party Wall etc Act 1996 go to