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Ancient Lights

doctrine land landowner adjoining

A doctrine of English COMMON LAW that gives a landowner an EASEMENT or right by prescription to the unobstructed passage of light and air from adjoining land if the landowner has had uninterrupted use of the lights for twenty years.

Once a person gains the right to ancient lights, the owner of the adjoining land cannot obscure them, such as by erecting a building. If the neighbor does so, he or she can be sued under a theory of NUISANCE, and damages could be awarded.

The doctrine of ancient lights has not been adopted in the United States since it would greatly hinder commercial and residential growth and the expansion of towns and cities.

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