PROPERTY CLINIC: Do my neighbors need planning permission for their new fence blocking the bathroom window in my ground floor apartment?
- Homeowners can do some minor work without a building permit
- In terms of building permits, new fences cannot exceed two meters in height
- We talk to a planning expert about your options for filing a complaint
I live in a ground floor flat in Walthamstow in East London. The back garden of my apartment is divided between me and the apartment above so that their part of the garden is outside my bathroom window.
The neighbors put up a fence right outside my bathroom window saying our window is affecting their privacy, but our window is frosted glass and we only open it for ventilation etc. Surely they need a building permit for that?
In terms of building permits, new fences must not exceed two meters in height
Myra Butterworth, MailOnline property expert, replies: I am sorry to learn of your situation. It must have been a shock to find a new fence just outside your bathroom window.
In addition to blocking sight, it can block light. We talk to a town planning expert to see if planning permission was needed and where you might be able to go from here.
Martin Gaine, approved urban planner, answers: Landlords have what is called Permitted Development Rights (PDRs). These allow them to carry out certain small-scale and minor works without the need for planning permission.
One of these rights allows for the erection of a fence, wall or similar – the only real requirement is that it must not exceed two meters in height (one meter if close to the street) .
The first thing to do is to check the height of this fence.
Owners can carry out minor and small-scale works without planning permission
If it’s less than two meters tall, I don’t think you can do much planning-wise. It is likely that the fence is legal and does not require any type of planning permission.
It may seem crazy that the planning system allows neighbors to block each other’s windows, but the authors of the permitted development rights probably did not imagine that the right to build a fence would be used in this way.
However, there may be another legal remedy, outside of the planning system, that can help you.
For example, you may have a “right to light” through your window, a form of legal easement that could prevent your neighbor from blocking your light.
A right of light can be established if the light has been cleared for a period of 20 years and you may be able to get an injunction against the fence or some sort of compensation.
Contact a lawyer or law consultant in light for advice tailored to your situation.
Martin Gaine is a Chartered Planner and author of “How to Get Planning Permission – Insider’s Secrets”