Whether it’s peaking over the horizon on a clear autumn morning or shining through a window on a summer afternoon, there is something truly special about sunlight. In addition to providing the energy for the earth and all living things on it, sunlight is something to be enjoyed by all, regardless of whether they are spending time inside or outside.
When it comes to architectural design and construction, natural light is often incorporated into a building’s design for aesthetic as well as functional purposes. The question, then, becomes: does one have a right to light? Believe it or not, this is an age-old question when it comes to property.
What Is “Right to Light”?
“Right to light” refers to a building owner’s right to receive sunlight through windows, skylights, and other openings. Laws and regulations vary worldwide, but they typically apply to longstanding buildings that have maintained a certain level of illumination for many years. These laws often prevent new construction that would interfere with the amount of light entering a building with an established right to light.
Right to Light Laws Around the World
The right to light is an easement under English law. However, where you are in the world will define how the right to light question is answered. In England, you may even still see “Ancient Lights” signs marking points where the light may not be infringed upon. In Tokyo, sunshine has been deemed by courts to be “essential to a comfortable life.” In Denmark, their light laws have even impacted how windows are designed.
Right to Light in the United States
Within the United States, the question of right to light is addressed in more ways than we can count. Originally, the English law was adopted. However, in 1959, a Florida court struck down the right to light law.
Since then, each jurisdiction has adopted their own way of dealing with this issue. Some deal with it in terms of an easement. Others deal with it in terms of a legal nuisance. Since the photovoltaics of solar are so dependent upon proper lighting, some states use solar easements and solar rights to help define the issue.
Finding a Solution
In most instances, a proper balance can be found through a coordinated effort among the land developer, community, and individual parties involved. Even the trees need sunlight and must be factored into this equation.
CREED LA fights to ensure that developers pay fair wages to all the hard-working construction professionals throughout the industry while simultaneously providing them with quality health care, continued training, and trustworthy retirement plans. To learn more about how our non-profit organization supports those building a better, greener world for us all, contact CREED LA online or at (877) 810-7473.