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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9340
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I own a flat with a terrace. There are about 4 windows with

Resolved Question:

hi, I own a flat with a terrace. There are about 4 windows with frosted glass over looking at it. My guess is that the building over my terrace has a limited right over these windows and can't open them or change the glass. Where should I look to make sure of my rights?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

What you want to know about this? Whether they can open these windows or change the glass?

How old are the surrounding buildings?

How close to your property are those windows?

For example, if the windows were opened, would they open over the boundary?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I own the terrace and don't want anyone to look on to my terrace. Sometimes, the tenant of the building overlooking my terrace opens the windows. I think he is not allowed to do so but I lack legal base. This what I am looking for.
Both buildings are over a century old. Its in central London (Shoreditch).
The terrace is about 800 square feet on a lower roof top.
One side of the terrace is the wall of the neighboring building (higher than my building). The windows are on this wall.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

If the buildings were new, there is very often a planning condition which says that the glass must be frosted. If they breach that, would be a matter for the planning department at the local authority.

Whether they can open the windows or not would depend on who owns the land over which the windows are opening and how often they had been opened the last 20 years because even if they are opening over someone else’s land, after 20 years they acquire the right, by prescription, for the easement open the windows.

However even if that were the case and they had not been opening the windows to 20 years perhaps because they had only just started installing open windows, if the open windows open over someone else’s land, and not your land, it would be for the landowner, not you to take action.

There is no common law right to privacy in English law. People very often get the right to privacy mixed up to the Human Rights right to a private and family life which is different.

Unfortunately, if the neighbours replace the glass with ordinary glass and start opening the windows, then except as I have stated above, there is probably very little, if anything you can do.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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We can still exchange emails.

Best wishes.


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