Ancient Lights Doctrine

Real Estate Word of the Day – Learning Real Estate one word at a time…
The “Ancient Lights Doctrine” is a legal principle that originated in English common law. The doctrine concerns the right to receive natural light for windows in a building without obstruction by neighboring structures. It is sometimes referred to as the “Right to Light.”
This “Ancient Lights” principle has not been accepted by modern U.S. courts, although the courts are starting to refer to it as they develop new laws regarding solar easements.
The basic idea behind the Ancient Lights Doctrine is that if a property owner has enjoyed uninterrupted light through their windows for a certain period, they may have a legal right to continue receiving that light. This legal concept evolved over time as a way to balance the property rights of neighbors.
The legal basis for the Ancient Lights Doctrine can vary by jurisdiction, and the specifics of how it is applied can differ. In some cases, the right to light is considered an easement acquired through long use, while in others, it may be a statutory right with specific criteria for protection.
If a property owner intends to build a structure that would obstruct the light to a neighboring property, the affected party may have legal recourse. This could involve legal actions to prevent the construction or seek compensation for the loss of light.

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