4 Useful Tips for Knowing Who Genuinely Owns Your Home’s Airspace
You've done it, you've managed to rustle up the capital to put down a deposit for a property, secured a decent mortgage and settled all your legal fees and stamp duty.
That's all you have to worry about now right? Wrong, whether you've purchased the house for residential use or plan to be a buy-to-let landlord you need to consider who owns the airspace above your house.
While property law can be tricky to get your head around, when buying a home you need to be mindful that owning land isn't limited to the building and garden, but also includes the earth under the ground level and air above it.
Technically, under the surface ownership extends all the way down to the center of the earth but it's not the same story for the airspace above your property.
1. Who sets the limit?
The upper limit of where your airspace ownership stops and starts remains a grey area with no definite border. You have the right to build into your airspace as long as you don’t obstruct others from doing the same.
There are two types of airspace that you need to be aware of, the lower and upper stratum. The lower stratum is the space immediately above and around the land. You have the right to protect this from anything entering your airspace such as projecting eaves, advertising signs or tower cranes being used for construction work nearby.
The higher stratum is around 500 to 1000 feet above roof space level (Section 76 Civil Aviation Act 1982). As a landowner, your rights to this space are no different to that of the general public.
2. Are aeroplanes trespassing?
Property law specialist, Alan Romero said: "You have the right to reasonably use both the surface and the air above it unless you thereby interfere with someone else’s use of property."
This means, under UK property law there is nothing stopping you from extending your building upwards by 200ft as long as it doesn't cause a nuisance.
Mr Romero added: "Although the upper limit of an owner’s airspace isn’t clearly defined, it certainly doesn’t extend into navigable airspace. The upper airspace belongs to the public and is open to air travel."
In the same way that breaking into someone's garden or parking on a neighbour's drive is seen as trespassing, entering into another’s airspace is a trespass offence even if the person doesn’t touch the ground.
For example, an aeroplane flying low over a person's house is trespassing especially if it interferes with your reasonable use and enjoyment of the property.
As part of your ownership of the airspace, it's within your discretion to allow other parties to use it. This could include utility companies, marketing agencies or anyone with an interest in using space above the ground.
3. Can I profit from my airspace?
Your airspace can be an effective way to earn some extra income without having to put in much work.
If viable, some housing developers will pay you to build into the space above your property.The value of your airspace depends on the location and size of your property as well as the airspace’s suitability for development.
The structure of your property will have to be strong enough to enable further construction of enough units to make the development profitable. This tends to happen more frequently in Central London.
Rather than buying your airspace outright, some developers may choose to cover the cost of the project, then offer the freehold owner a share of the profits earned.
4. What if I don’t own the freehold?
The airspace belongs to the freehold owner of the property. However if you own a flat on a leasehold basis, your permission is required before any construction can start in the airspace around your flat.
Normette Homes specialise in providing guaranteed rent and free management services.