The light shift: who can release a right of light?
The case of Metropolitan Housing Trust Ltd v RMC FH Co centres on the issue of whether it was the landlord or the tenant of a long leasehold property which had the authority to release the right of light benefitting the property to allow development to take place on neighbouring land.
The High Court held that the tenant could not release the right of light over the property without the landlord’s consent for two main reasons. First, the lease expressly prohibited the tenant from allowing any third party to acquire an easement over the property. Secondly, the release of the right would damage the landlord’s interest in the property.
Developers will need to proceed with caution when negotiating a release of a right of light. If dealing with a single party, the developer must ensure that the party has the unfettered discretion to release the right of light. Developers may need to engage with more than one party to ensure the right is released by all parties that have an interest in the right.