18 January 2016
Property - What is a Restrictive Covenant?
Property, be it land or buildings, is often subject to clauses controlling its use and what can and can’t be done with it. Here we explore the area of restrictive covenants and what they can mean to property owners.
What is a Restrictive Covenant?
A restrictive covenant is a binding agreement which prevents a property owner from doing certain things, or requires the owner to carry out certain actions in relation to the property.
Restrictive covenants can be found in contracts for rental properties as well as bought properties.
Restrictive Covenants in Rental Properties
These are usually stated in the lease and can include things like not being allowed to carry out alterations, to keep the property in good repair, or not causing a nuisance to neighbours. You’re much more likely to see these as terms of your occupation rather than a restrictive covenant. They govern what you can and cannot do in the property.
Restrictive Covenants in Owned Properties
These will be checked by your property lawyer as part of the conveyancing process when a title investigation will be carried out. Your lawyer will advise you on anything which is relevant and how it may affect your property.
Restrictive covenants can affect what you do with your newly purchased land or house. For example, the covenant may state that you can’t build any extensions or buildings (or consent and approval may be necessary), or that you have to build and maintain fences to a certain height. There could also be a restriction on your use of the property or land.
Restrictive covenants pass from owner to owner and are legally binding. If you fail to comply with a restrictive covenant, the person who the agreement is with may be able to take action against you.
Can I Remove a Restrictive Covenant?
In some cases you can be released from a restrictive covenant. The first thing you should do is consult with a property lawyer who will be able to advise on its terms. You don’t want to end up in a lengthy legal battle over your land.
Sometimes, the owners of the land which benefits from the covenant may be approached, and it may be worthwhile to try to reach a compromise to remove part – or all – of the restriction. This will often involve payment to the land owner and it can provide a useful solution for large-scale development projects
In other cases, a property lawyer may suggest making an application to the Lands Tribunal to discharge or modify the restriction. However, it can be a time-consuming and expensive process.
What Can I Do if Someone Breaches a Restrictive Covenant?
If there has been a breach of a restrictive covenant then there are a number of possible remedies available. It’s advisable to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to outline the various options available. The longer you delay in objecting to the breach, the harder it may be to reach a satisfactory outcome.
Slater and Gordon have an expert team of property lawyers who can advise on the implications of land and buildings being subject to restrictive covenants or on the terms of leases or breaches of restrictive covenants. Call us on freephone 0800 223 0084 or contact us online and we will call you.
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