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Restrictive Covenants: What do they mean?

Updated: May 31, 2023

‘Content correct at time of publishing and subject to change’

If you live in a residential property, you’re probably aware of a number of restrictive covenants that you must abide by. A restrictive covenant limits what you can do with your property. Usually, a developer will put a number of restrictions in place when selling plots from the development of an estate.

Property developers put these restrictions in place to protect and maintain the character of the entire estate, which is ideal for all homeowners as it helps to preserve the value of each property. Typical examples of restrictive covenants include no adapting of the property for business use, no structural alterations or extensions without the developer’s consent.

Removing a restrictive covenant

If your property has any restrictive covenants, it is possible to get them removed. First, you would need to negotiate with the developer or landowner of the development your property is on. You should then enter a formal agreement to remove the covenants from the home title. Usually, developers/landowners will request a lump sum to release the covenants and their legal costs.

You can also apply to the Lands Tribunal for the removal of your covenants. For example, if the character of the estate has changed since the restrictive covenants were originally imposed, making them irrelevant, this is when you would apply to the Lands Tribunal. It is worth noting, however, that this can have cost implications and is usually a lengthy process.

Finding a specialist solicitor is always the best place to start if you believe you need to remove a restrictive covenant on your home.

What happens if my new home is already breaching the restrictive covenants?

Usually, when you buy a new home, the person you purchased the property from is required to confirm that they have complied with the covenants whilst owning the home. If you move into your new home and find that a restrictive covenant has been breached by the previous owners, the seller may have to offer the buyers a restrictive covenant indemnity insurance policy. This type of insurance covers the buyers and their lender for any loss as a result of future enforcement of restrictive covenants.

Enforceable restrictive covenants

After 20 years, it is usually difficult to enforce a breach of covenant. The Limitation Act 1980 also states that claims in the land should be brought within 12 years. However, this starts from the date of the breach, not the date on the house deeds. There could be technical reasons that may mean the covenants are no longer valid. For example, if the landowner did not register the land with appropriate protections, this would be a technical reason for covenants being void.

If you’re worried about the restrictive covenants in your home, or if you’re planning to buy or sell your home, get in touch with us today.


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