Restrictive Covenants: Explained

When you are purchasing a property, your solicitor may tell you that there are restrictive covenants on your title. We look here at what this means, and how they can affect your property.

What are restrictive covenants?

They are agreements in a deed that limit the way a landowner can use his property, in order to benefit another property. They are also frequently found in leases to properties.

Why would there be a restrictive covenant on my property’s title?

Landowners often put restrictive covenants into place when they are selling off portions of land and want to restrict the way the owners of the smaller plots use their land. The reasons for this can vary – from ensuring that the character of the properties remains the same, to prohibiting a nuisance in the future.

It is common, for example, to have restrictive covenants on the title of properties on a new build estate, and for there to be mirroring restrictions on the other properties on the estate. This ensures that all of the new home owners are in the same position, and can actually prevent neighbour disputes.

Where would I find details of any restrictive covenants?

For older properties, restrictive covenants may be contained in old deeds or conveyances. If the property is registered at the Land Registry, they should also be mentioned in the Official Copy of the Registered Title. For newer properties, restrictive covenants are likely to be contained in the Transfer document.

What sort of restrictive covenants might be on my title?

You, as property owner, will be obliged to comply with many different restrictions if they are contained in your title. Examples of some restrictions are set out below, and can vary depending on location of the property, its surroundings and the intentions of the seller / developer when splitting the land. They include not to:

• alter or extend the property without prior consent or approval;
• keep any animals other than domestic pets;
• operate a business or trade from the property;
• park cars on certain communal roadways;
• hang washing in the front garden of the property or over a balcony;
• erect a satellite dish on the property;
• cause nuisance or annoyance;
• erect a fence on the front boundary of the property.

A previous owner agreed the restrictive covenant. Do I still need to comply with this?

The burden of a restrictive covenant runs with the land. This means that any purchaser would take over the obligation to comply with the covenants. On the purchase of a property, your solicitor would need to check that none of the restrictive covenants have been breached by the previous owner.

What happens if I breach a restrictive covenant?

If you breach a restrictive covenant, you may be faced with a claim for damages or an injunction to prevent you continuing to breach the covenant. It is therefore important that you are aware of any restrictive covenants on your title and how they may affect your use of the property. For example, if you are thinking of extending or altering your property, it might be worth refer back to your title deeds to check that consent is not required by any third party to do so.

If you are considering purchasing or selling a property and would like to know more about restrictive covenants, contact our specialist conveyancing team. Alternatively, if you are concerned about a potential dispute relating to a breach of restrictive covenant, our property litigation team may be able to help you. Call to make a free no obligation appointment with either of our specialist teams today on 0113 244 9931.

 

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