Home > Rights > What Are Restrictive Covenants?

What Are Restrictive Covenants?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 10 Aug 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Property Boundaries Deeds Contracts

Restrictive covenants are sometimes imposed by a seller to prevent the buyer from using or developing the land in such a way that the seller feels could be damaging to the land which the seller has retained.

Common examples include an agreement not to erect any buildings or structures on the land or to use the land to run a business without the express permission of the developer. Restrictive covenants can actually cover a broad range of issues but one of the most frequently broken is in making alterations to an existing property without obtaining consent from the appropriate third party, which is often the original builder.

How Do I Know if I’m Affected by Restrictive Covenants?

A lot of the time, people buy new property and their conveyance solicitor has not bothered to make them aware that restrictive covenants affect the property. This is why it pays to thoroughly check out the deeds to the property as any covenants will be contained within this document. Ignorance is no excuse where the law is concerned. By signing the title deeds, which you will have been required to do, it basically means that you have read, understood and signed an agreement to all of the terms within it. Therefore, it might be the case that you could, for example, be required to tear down a house extension which you have had built if the person with the benefit of the covenant enforces it against you. One of the key things to remember here is that planning permission from your local authority or building regulation approval is completely separate from covenant consent and must be applied for separately.

Another example might be to do with Boundaries where a neighbour wants to erect a fence of a certain height between his house and his next door neighbour’s, yet the restrictive covenant does not permit this. This is a typical example of the kind of dispute that can arise in neighbourhoods where, perhaps, the houses are rented and contracts and covenants dictate what you can and can’t do in relation to things like home and garden improvements.

Breaching a Restrictive Covenant

If you think you have breached a restrictive covenant, you need to employ the services of a professional conveyance solicitor. The enforcing of covenants is an extremely complex matter and a good conveyance solicitor may spot that the restrictive covenants which appear within the deeds or legal title of a property have been incorrectly drawn up, or may discover that the correct procedures have not been followed. In essence, there are sometimes legal ways in which a conveyance solicitor can prove that the covenant is not enforceable.

Sometimes a way around the problem is to take out indemnity insurance, although the insurance company may impose specific requirements which must be met, such as no dispute being currently in effect or the breach has continued for several years. Other solutions can include contacting the original developer who imposed the covenant to see if they are willing to grant what’s termed ‘retrospective consent’. However, in this case, you’ll almost certainly have to pay a fee with no guarantee that they will agree. Alternatively, they may agree to lift the covenant but might also seek compensation from you from breaching the covenant.

Often it’s only when problems or disputes arise between neighbours that the whole issue of restrictive covenants springs to light. Whether it’s boundaries that are the issue or other plans a person might have for the land, the best way to get the matter resolved is to speak to a conveyance solicitor who will be able to help resolve the matter.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hi My neighbour put up a fence 12 years ago, I recently got planning permission for my house using the fence as a boundary, he has since said the fence isn’t the boundary and the only reason he put the fence where it is is because there was a tree in the way of the actual boundary line. Can anyone advise if I can ignore him and build my house
Sarah - 10-Aug-19 @ 1:43 PM
I have recently been accused of breaching a restrictive covenant by registering my company at my home address and using it as business premises.The first part is correct (registration address), the second part is not as I operate 230 miles away. My property title includes a restrictive covenenat worded as: "no trade business or profession shall be carried out upon the Plotand the Plot shall not be used for any purpose other than one private dwelling unit" In my experience, such a breach is a matter of degree and in my case, I don't believe registering a company at my address is sufficient to cause breach. My question is, does anyone have any case law or other authority I could use to challenge the accustaion of breach? Many thanks in anticipation.
Phil - 22-Jul-19 @ 8:38 AM
ourrestrictive covenant deed s state that any boundary trees must be maintained and replaced as necessary. There are 3 such trees at our side of a dividingwall.Our neighbour states the trees shade some of her garden plants. These trees also serve to block a view of her washing line from a neighbour opposite us. We do try to keep the trees well under control and they do not shadow the majority of her garden. They do not block any sunlight from her house. Can she force us to take the trees down or demand that we trim them more than twice a year ?
susan - 4-Jun-19 @ 9:02 AM
hi we have restricictive covenants stating boundary trees must be maintained and replaced if removed. Our neighbour wants us to remove the three trees on our border saying they shade some of her plants in her garden which are placed at our side of a dividingboundary wall....we do try and keep the 3 trees well trimmed but she is not happy. They also shield her washing line from our neighbours bungalow opposite which is their purpose. How can i placate my neighbour ? Do we have to do as she asks.
susan - 4-Jun-19 @ 8:53 AM
My house deed has a restrictive covenant stating ‘The purchaser will forthwith fence off the purchased property on the south west side thereof from the adjoining land of the vendor with a creosoted pled fence not less than six feet in height ‘ Does the above mean that I own and am responsible for up keep and change the fence to the south west side fence how I like ? The fence is severely damaged but the neighbour is saying that can’t change yet coz they have painted on their side and have spent money doing so . A reply would be highly appreciated as I am already in the process of installing a new and more expensive fence
Deej - 2-May-19 @ 9:08 PM
I just bought a house and it came with the land next to it but it has a few restrictions the top 2 being. 1. The transferee will not at any time hereafter use or occupy the property or any part or parts there of or permit or suffer the same to be used or occupied for any purpose other than for private garden land. 2. The transferee shall not at any time erect place or lay any building structure or works on or in the property or any part or parts there of. Do they mean I can't put a concrete sectional garage on that land? Since its my private garden I just want to make sure I can put the concrete sectional garage in it with no comebacks. Or would I need to contact the local council or/and the land registry? Thanks in advance for any help
Rob2523 - 12-Apr-19 @ 12:10 AM
Hi I'm wanting to put up a concrete sectional garage but I have a restriction and stipulations. The transferee shall not at any time erect place or lay any building structure or works on or in the property or any part or parts there of.
Rob - 11-Apr-19 @ 9:20 PM
We are in the process of selling our property & have just found out there are a number of restrictive covenants on the property from the original transfer plan 40 years ago, one of which is 'not to cut down, maim or injure any trees which are now or may hereafter be planted on the property hereby transferred'. There was a conifer tree, which was not on the original transfer, in the back garden which was overgrown & shading the garden from sunlight for half of the day & so we decided to cut the tree down a couple of years ago. As this tree wasn't in situ when the original transfer plan was drawn up & as the only impact of us removing this tree is that this property & the property next door now benefit from more hours of sun in the garden, is the covenant relevant in this situation or have we breached it? Is this something that is enforceable? What is the likely result of this?
Marg - 23-Nov-18 @ 1:42 PM
My neighbour decided one day to remove my fence panels and replace with larger ones then erect a fence at the front of our properties. We have a restrictive covenant but he went ahead and did it as a result I can no longer put my car on the driveway as I cannot now open my car door to get out. I will be getting an electriccar in new year and as such will not be able to charge it as this neighbour is so stubborn he ignores all issues and has since had a restrictive covenant lifted for him to have this unsightly fence. Can the council intervene if it means I cannot charge my new electric car What is the point of everyone signing covenants only to have it lifted because a neighbour wishes to devalue your property. These were his words I will make your house worthless. So far has cost me a fortune in solicitors but no one seems to be able to help. Advice needed
Tomtommad - 5-Sep-18 @ 11:37 AM
Neighbour has started a childminding business , the children are out in the garden for 4 days a week from 9-30 till 5pm. The noise means I can no longer have my windows open nor can I enjoy my garden, Have had a word with herabout the loud music she often plays. Is here anything I can do tostop her being in the garden for so any hours a day.
ann - 12-Jul-18 @ 3:22 PM
I live on a cul de sac with a large garage. Only recently decided to put a planning application in for a garage at the back on the right hand side of the garden which will be facing another garage. This got rejected on the basis it will mean two trees will need to be cut down. Now I have put an apeal for building the garage on the otherside and my biggest worry is the covenant restrictions that will prevent the build such as someone like a neighbour. Can some use it against you for the simple reason a garage can stop them from getting out and the place is not adapted. Thanks
Sid - 26-Jun-18 @ 11:46 PM
We have very little parking up our cul de sactherefore most of the neighbours respect each others parking spaces . We have one neighbour with a driveway that constantly thinks it's OK to disregard this and take up spaces Or move their cars offdrive for visitors to park on their drive causing no end of hassle.She saidid she has an illegal drive and therefire does not have to use it. It has a dropped kerb. Now I know no one has so called spots but after 20 odd years of using them and being respectful of it you would thinkthis new neighbours would want to get on
Woody - 14-Jun-18 @ 1:22 PM
My husband and I own the driveway, lane, leading to six other houses as well as ourselves. They have rights of access over the lane as long as they pay towards maintenance . We have recently discovered that one of our neighbours is running a Fitness business from his home which entails his clients also using the drive. We have a restrictive convenient on our house stating that we are not allowed to run a business from here, I am unsure if the same applies to him. I am more concerned about the additional wear and tear on the lane which is a clay and shingle ancient lane that we have to maintain. Am I within my rights to insist that his clients park on the main area of road and walk down to his property in order to ease the traffic from his business. I am not concerned about his running the business from home, only the increased use of the lane.
Aunty Mog - 1-May-18 @ 1:32 PM
Chezza - Your Question:
We moved into our property 2 years ago. The house was built in 1985. We were notified that a strip of land at the back of our garden has a restricted covenant on it but we would like to put a shed there. We have 2 properties behind us whose gardens back onto it, which have 7ft hedges. What actions do we need to take to be able to put the shed up

Our Response:
You haven't given details of the restrictive covenant. Does it prohibit the erection of shed? If so, you should follow the advice in the article above entitled "Breaching a restrictive covenant"
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Apr-18 @ 10:21 AM
We moved into our property 2 years ago.The house was built in 1985 .We were notified that a strip of land at the back of our garden has a restricted covenant on it but we would like to put a shed there.We have 2 properties behind us whose gardens back onto it, which have 7ft hedges.What actions do we need to take to be able to put the shed up
Chezza - 24-Apr-18 @ 11:26 AM
I have recently bought a victorian semi. My neighbour is a childminder and has just built a large wooden outbuilding at the bottom of her garden to run her childminding business from. She employs an assistant. The planning department has informed her that she needs to submit a change of use planning application for the new development and her current business. I have checked her title deeds and there is a restrictive covenant regarding business use and buildings that are not dwelling houses from being erected in the garden. Is there anything that I can do as the neighbour to enforce this covenant.
BCTripper - 22-Apr-18 @ 5:28 PM
Hboo2003 - Your Question:
Our landlord who is disabled could no longer manage his 4 bed detached house. He converted his outside storage into an annexe which he has lived in for 2 years. He also runs an account business which he is winding down in a small building at the other side of house. We rent the main house myself husband child and my mum.All was lovely and apparently has been for 32 years. The house across the yard sold last August. The new people are still doing it up and have not moved in yet. We received a solicitors letter from them saying the landlord had broken the covenance. Accusing us of over occupancy saying we have builders staying over night which we don't. They take pictures of every visitor although very few and state the amount of people visiting the property is causing them stress. Our landlord has 2 carers a day and maybe 2 clients a week. We have 1 or 2 visitors a week. It's totally quite no one is ever here. They want us evicted and the business to close immediately. Can they do this ???? No one had ever caused them any problems or blocked their way or anything. We do not understand why???

Our Response:
You may need to get a solicitor to look at the terms of the covenant on the main house and annex etc. We can't really comment without far more detail.
ProblemNeighbours - 9-Apr-18 @ 2:20 PM
Stanpitmarsh - Your Question:
We own a property in a terrace of 8 houses and we have a detached garage with parking space alongside which is opposite the rear of our property with shared vehicle access for all 8 properties.When we moved in 12 years ago, a shed was in our parking space and we were happy with that. Last year a neighbour accidentally damaged the shed beyond repair with his car and we had to remove it. When we told our next-door neighbour that we were going to replace it, they told us that they did not like us having a shed in the parking space as it made it difficult for them to park (but not impossible as the previous next door neighbour had no problem doing so). We were then told that they had read the restricted covenant which says that the car parking spaces are to be used for vehicles only and to deviate from that would require permission from the managing agent and that they would put in a complaint if we were to do so. We have found out that the managing agent went into liquidation 20 years ago and the property was not bought as a going concern. Is the covenant still valid and if we were to replace the shed, who would they put the complaint into?Thanks

Our Response:
It's likely that the covenant maybe still relevant if it related to action that would affect other neighbour. Your neighbour may be able to apply to the courts to have the covenant enforced, although as your shed was in place for over 10 years anyway, we don't know how the judge would decide. It might be worth seeking professional legal advice (be sure to get a copy of your title deeds to take with you).
ProblemNeighbours - 9-Apr-18 @ 11:40 AM
Our landlord who is disabled could no longer manage his 4 bed detached house. He converted his outside storage into an annexe which he has lived in for 2 years. He also runs an accountbusiness which he is winding down in a small building at the other side of house. We rent the main house myself husband child and my mum. All was lovely and apparently has been for 32 years. The house across the yard sold last August. The new people are still doing it up and have not moved in yet. We received a solicitors letter from them saying the landlord had broken the covenance. Accusing us of over occupancy saying we have builders staying over night which we don't. They take pictures of every visitor although very few and state the amount of people visitingthe property is causing them stress. Our landlord has 2 carers a day and maybe 2 clients a week. We have 1 or 2 visitors a week. It's totally quite no one is ever here. They want us evicted and the business to close immediately. Can they do this ????. No one had ever caused them any problems or blocked their way or anything. We do not understand why???
Hboo2003 - 8-Apr-18 @ 2:12 AM
We own a property in a terrace of 8 houses and we have a detached garage with parking space alongside which is opposite the rear of our property with shared vehicle access for all 8 properties. When we moved in 12 years ago, a shed was in our parking space and we were happy with that. Last year a neighbour accidentally damaged the shed beyond repair with his car and we had to remove it. When we told our next-door neighbour that we were going to replace it, they told us that they did not like us having a shed in the parking space as it made it difficult for them to park (but not impossible as the previous next door neighbour had no problem doing so). We were then told that they had read the restricted covenant which says that the car parking spaces are to be used for vehicles only and to deviate from that would require permission from the managing agent and that they would put in a complaint if we were to do so. We have found out that the managing agent went into liquidation 20 years ago and the property was not bought as a going concern. Is the covenant still valid and if we were to replace the shed, who would they put the complaint into? Thanks
Stanpitmarsh - 6-Apr-18 @ 8:20 PM
Charlotte - Your Question:
My new neighbour is planning on erecting a fence outlining her boundaries but in doing so will block access to our garage by car as the drive is a shared driveway. The land for the driveway is owned by a third party and leased to both mine and next door. In the lease there is nothing mentioning a shared driveway however I have lived in this house for 15 years and the driveway was always used as a shared driveway between us and next door (a different neighbor) as it was with all previous tenants. Is there anything I can do to stop the fence being erected and blocking access to the garage?

Our Response:
Is there anything in the title deeds for your home that mentions this. Have you cotnact the owner of the land (the freeholder) to ask about this?
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Apr-18 @ 3:19 PM
My new neighbour is planning on erecting a fence outlining her boundaries but in doing so will block access to our garage by car as the drive is a shared driveway. The land for the driveway is owned by a third party and leased to both mine and next door. In the lease there is nothing mentioning a shared driveway however I have lived in this house for 15 years and the driveway was always used as a shared driveway between us and next door (a different neighbor) as it was with all previous tenants. Is there anything I can do to stop the fence being erected and blocking access to the garage?
Charlotte - 6-Apr-18 @ 12:24 AM
I live in a small cul-de-sac on an estate.All the houses were built about 25 years ago by the same developer.My next door neighbour has his house up for sale and has told me that a property developer is interested in buying his house and plans to turn it into an HMO.The house is 2 storeys,has 5 bedrooms and a double integral garage which could mean there is a possiblity of up to 7/8 bedrooms (3 of which, would be large doubles).There is a covenant in the title deeds which says that the houses are to be used as a 'single private dwelling only'.Can this covenant be used to prevent the property from being turned into an HMO?
Janci - 16-Feb-18 @ 7:58 AM
Ricky - Your Question:
My neighbours have obtained planning permission on their part of a piece of land of which I bought half to build a large garage at 13ft. high which will block the view from my living room window and garden. there is a valid restrictive covenant which states there is to be no buildings or house extensions on the land, it was sold to both parties as amenity garden land 3 years ago.I had rented the land for 14 years.I will lose my visual amenties and my home will fall in value plus looking at a high brick wall from my home will make me ill.I am desperate, what can l do about it? I have lived here nearly twenty years, the neighbours have lived there for just over 3 years.

Our Response:
Planning permission is irrelevant if there is a restrictive covenant in place - and planning departments do not usually take consideration of/are not aware of the existence of a covenant. If the neighbour plans to go ahead, they will be doing so in breach of the covenant and you can take legal action.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-Jan-18 @ 10:41 AM
Need to add there will be a large extension to the house besides the garage. the garage is 13ft., one ft.higher than Germany's Berlin wallwhich caused so much destress in the 60s.SIT
ricky - 12-Jan-18 @ 3:35 AM
My neighbours have obtained planning permission on their part of a piece of land of which I bought half to build a large garage at 13ft. high whichwill block the view from my living room window and garden. there is a valid restrictive covenant which states there is to be no buildings or house extensions on the land, it was sold to both parties as amenity garden land 3 years ago.I had rented the land for 14 years. I will lose my visual amenties and my home will fall in value plus looking at a high brick wall from my home will make me ill. I am desperate, what can l do about it?. I have lived here nearly twenty years, the neighbours have lived there for just over 3 years.
Ricky - 12-Jan-18 @ 3:26 AM
I live in a terraced building and have made an access into a private field to act as a fire escape. I've been told to take the gate down as the owner is stating they don't want to give an11year access to their property. How do I stand
Sandy - 13-Dec-17 @ 6:04 PM
My neighbour has got planing permission to divide their house into 2 dwelings, however the deed for the current dweling shows a restrictive convenant which clearly states that the plot of land is not to be subdivided or no more than 1 house canbe erected. It will make my life much easier if they can't get 2 titles deeds as they won't be able to sell the house. So I won't have the hassle of the works. It's there any way that I can raise this issue? Thanks
Notoosure - 22-Nov-17 @ 9:27 PM
Cheeky - Your Question:
I have planning permission to put a static caravan on my drive why I renovate my house But it's a ex council house Do I need covenant consent Please help

Our Response:
Check your title deeds - they will details any covenants etc.
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Aug-17 @ 2:47 PM
I have planning permission to put a static caravan on my drive why I renovate my house But it's a ex council house Do I need covenant consent Please help
Cheeky - 4-Aug-17 @ 7:37 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments