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What Are Restrictive Covenants?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 19 Oct 2023 | 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.

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Hi, I share a drive with 2 other properties, but the entrance to the drive is part of my property and the other 2 properties have a right of way. There are 2 more house that are not using the drive but technically can obstruct it if they park on the curb as they are in very close proximity. One of those neighbours parks his car on the curb most of the time and is not using his drive due to the inconvenience of parking car behind one another. This narrows the entrance to my drive and as sometimes visitors park on the other side of the curb makes really difficult to access my drive or in fact impossible. There is a restrictive covenant stating: Purchasers cannot at any time obstruct any roads, footpaths or shared driveways with any items or vehicles. My question is will I be able to enforce this covenant and stop them from parking on the curb and in fact tell them to use their own drives. Thank you
Rado - 19-Oct-23 @ 8:05 AM
I live in my late father in law's house.The land it was built in was sold in 1934 from the Duke of Portland to a developer.It was then further sliced up and small pockets sold to individual developers.I've discovered that from 1934 there is a covenant which says I can't keep pigs pigeons poultry or more than 2 dogs. This would have been written before the houses were built. The developers are no longer alive. I moved in 9 years ago with 3 dogs and have had 4 dogs since 2018. My neighbours on one side are definitely not dog people.On the other side the neighbours partner moved in 6 years ago.They are now threatening to seek legal advice due to the number of dogs I have. I have spent several thousand pounds putting up new fencing, the dogs are not allowed out in the garden unattended, I've had blinds fitted to restrict their view from windows. Does anyone know if the 89 year old covenant is enforceable?Other than a few words over the fence no official complaint had ever been made. Thanks Mary
Mary - 12-Mar-23 @ 4:46 PM
We have green space in our estate that has been purchased by a neighbour. It has a covenant giving it over to public access. He applied for planning and refused numerous times and lost appeal. Now he’s running quad bikes over the land to spoil it for residents and public. Is this in violation of the covenant?
JED - 11-Mar-23 @ 4:33 PM
I live in a row of 5 town houses. There is a covenant stating that there should be no business what so ever run from the properties. 3 of the properties are about to be Buy to Lets would this contravene the covenantas they are now a business. Many thanks
Alicia - 26-Sep-22 @ 8:21 PM
I live in a row of 5 town houses. There is a covenant stating that there should be no business what so ever run from the properties. 3 of the properties are about to be Buy to Lets would this contravene the covenantas they are now a business. Many thanks
sweeny - 25-Jul-22 @ 4:19 PM
I am a freeholder of a lease, the lease is over 30 yrs old and states I cant do alterations unless to do renovations and additions to my property. However there is also a deed of covenant of 20yrs which says I cannot make any alterations to the exterior wall. I want to build an extension and balcony Which takes precedence. And what is reasonable? If it is to improve the property?
Sammy - 26-May-22 @ 8:02 PM
we are 79year and 76 year old I am a blue badge holder We have lived in are home for 18years without a problemuntil the new neighbours moved in the previous owner never bothered if we parked on his land to put garden rubbish in the boot and take it to the tip. But now the new people have sent us a solicitors letter informing us that they will take us to court if we stop on his land for any reason. We have a garage and a a parking space to the front of the garage but the garage is small and we cannot get garden rubbish past the car when its in the garage, so would have to move out, we have two cars one in the garage and one on the drive, please advise
pat - 18-May-22 @ 7:22 PM
Just need some advice, the land at the back of our house has a covenant on it. No structural fences & has to have hedges. We want a hedge on our property,recently a neighbour put up a wooden fence on our land without permission. I actually went out and stated she is breaking the covenant rules and I didn't want a fence put up. Took absolutely no notice of me and has put the fence up on my land. What are my rights on this? Any advice welcome.
Caron Smeaton - 15-Mar-22 @ 9:38 AM
Hi, we live in a barn conversion. 4 other properties which include the holder of the covenants. We purchased the property and due to no storage the seller provided us with brochures and even helped us find someone to build the shed. We were exchanging emails ti kerp him uodated on the build. We put tge concrete base down 6 weeks before installation. He saw this on a daily basis. Once shed built.7 months later sent a solicitors letter stating that we did not ask written permission so breached convenant. Had to remove large shed and pay costs. This hss become worse when we put it on tge market. All issues declared to new buyers and as far as we were concerned all matters resolved. In tge process of the sale solicitors needed information from him regarding communal septic tank. We pay £300 per year for communal area and septic tank. He will not provide any details to the solicitor in relation to simple things like when it was last emptied etc. He has also said that the new buyers who wish to build something but are aware that they have to ask written permission from him and have done so have been told by him that we, not them must pay to get convenant changed, and he wants compensation as this will increase value on barn. We do not wish to do this as we will not benefit.he has said that we need ti do it on their behalf as he will not discuss or consider it once its sold to them. He has been very difficult and the informatiin that we need to sell, he will not provide. We have just been advised that the barn next to ours which is now his daughters he has lifted all covenants from hers and his own and just left them on our property and another neighbour. All our properties are attachef. He is a very bitter man and we need help. We dont want to stay, we are not even allowed to rent it out. He has stated that he will not provide any informatiin to solicitors so we can sell. We are at a loss
Jules - 11-Mar-22 @ 9:40 PM
There is covenant on my property my neighbours has done criminal damage on my property he is noises and has 4 dogs it height mare he doesn’t live there all the time. He wait till I’m home then drags his bin round close to my car never put my bin back he night mare it state that you wheel bikes or stuff so this must mean wheel bins as well the is path around out side he just goes a cross my garden I want to stop him
Mrs h - 19-Sep-21 @ 12:18 PM
I moved into a house 2.5 years ago with a right of access for the neighbours to access the rear of their properties which we do not have a problem with and, this has never been used. We recently received planning permission to build a balcony and since then I have received a solicitors letter from the landlord of next door that the right of access has been moved which we were unaware of and no one had highlighted this. It is via a set of steps which the previous owner moved so as to build an extension but did not go ahead even though he had planning permission. The steps were on the plans to be moved no one objected. We have been told that the steps have to be put back, is this the case even though access is not blocked and are we liable for the works being unaware they were moved in 2017. I might add that the landlords house next door is in total disrepair and we have requested jobs to be done i.e. leaking basement which has caused damp to our inside wall.He has never had the work done. The solicitors letter is quite harrassing and badly worded and also the facts are totally wrong.Please help.
sanj - 8-Sep-21 @ 9:20 AM
Our estate has restrictive covenants, one of which says no trade or business to be run from the properties, and the properties can only be used as private dwellings. A neighbour started marketing his whole house as a holiday let. Neighbours complained, our property management company contacted him, and he is no longer advertising. So far so good ... except he has now employed a solicitor to try to challenge the restrictive covenant, which has been in place since the estate was developed twenty years' ago. Has he any right to challenge it? Does he stand any change of overturning it? Neighbours are concerned about noise, lack of privacy and parking issues. The only person who will benefit is the homeowner, as he could charge a lot of money for holiday rental.
Pippin - 6-Aug-21 @ 5:40 PM
hi !if a piece of land as overage on and the new land owner put numerous covenats on the same piece of land against development ie no structures, and various other covenants, basically going against the agreed overage ie has deed of charge, good faith agreement and a clause which states not to to damage the land etc. anni have some opinions please am worried ? thanks
yvette - 4-Jul-21 @ 9:06 AM
We have covenants in the property deeds stating the owner is obligated to maintain boundary structures.The fence between us and our neighbour (their boundaries) is falling down and completely rotten.We have written to them several times over the last couple of years requesting they repair or replace the fence as they have dogs. We even replaced a panel at our expense last year as the holes were so big the animals could get through. They have not responded in any way.What should we do next? ,
Jackie - 23-Jun-21 @ 12:28 PM
A piece of land to the rear of my property has restrictive covenants, the new owner has allowed people to start works, removal of kerb and grass verge to access the land, there were many complaints to the council whom seemed very relaxed in doing anything, the local council have after many objections given approval for a build, we as residents do not understand the logic, we believe something is not right with this whole process, ( questions unanswered, limited information etc,I am currently looking to go to the Local Government Ombudsman,), to make matters worse, because we put objections forward we have had abuse, vandalism, tailgating whilst out driving from the people wanting to build, ( couldn't put in our objections, ), the whole thing stinks to high heaven, £10,000 was paid for land yet we and other neighbours put in for £25,000 , ( just to extend our gardens as we would then back on to each other,), this land has a binding covenant and yet there seems nothing we can do and these people whom are going to be our future neighbour s ( ahhhhhhhhhhh,) seem to do as they please and we are all suffering in the process.
Tracie - 7-Jun-21 @ 6:56 PM
I have just purchased a property and in the restrictive covenants of the sale and all houses on the estate, it states that no commercial vehicles are to be parked anywhere on the estate overnight. My neighbour parks his waste collection commercial truck always full of rubbish, opposite my drive making it extremely difficult to reverse on or off it. Is there anything I can do without having to re-employ my conveyancer?
emma - 3-Jun-21 @ 3:10 PM
Our house deeds state that caravans, homes on wheels, boats or any similar vehicle cannot be kept on the drives. A new neighbour insists this doesn’t apply to a motorhome. How can we find out if this is true?
Lucy - 16-Apr-21 @ 1:37 PM
My lease shows I own the land and pathway. For over 20 to 40 years upstairs coal bunker has just been the base down the pathway. I have a small fence around my garden. I have just been told my neighbour upstairs who owns the flat base of concrete is adding a cycle box the size of a coal bunker. This will restrict access as the path is narrow.i have plants and a hedge I look after to the left of the path after the concrete base. I do not get on with my neighbour as I claimed the hedge and pathway back 5 years ago as overgrown and neglected and my children are behave more time.
Ange - 12-Apr-21 @ 6:00 PM
My neighbour has just got planning approval to extend his bungalow along side of my fence by 6.5 metres with a pitched roof. There is a convenants on this land stating no buildings(other than those now erected or one garden shed) shall be erected on said land. Is there anything I can do now?
Joanie - 8-Apr-21 @ 11:59 AM
Our deeds state that we can't build anything that over looks height of fence. I just want to build a shed 2x4m with a height of roughly 2.5m. fence is less than 2m in height. Shed will be close to fence boundary. Is it possible to have higher fence if this is a problem?
Gav82 - 5-Apr-21 @ 5:55 PM
We live on a small cul de sac which as 4 houses, 2 semi detached on either side. We have little bit of land and is a turning point for owners to park on their drives. Ours and next doors deeds state that the patch of road outside all houses is turning point and at no time vehicles are not allowed to park. Each house was allocated 2 car spaces, one of the houses lost a car park to make a garden,then they started parking on the tuen around, didn't bother us as he left space for us to turn. Been living here 20 years not problem with neighbours.Last year couple moved in, they rent this house off their boss, however the rest if us own the house. The new couple have been parking long side in the turn round so obstructing us from turning. We have looked at our deeds and above states what it says. We have have spoken to this guys and he is rude and doesn't care. How can this be sorted?
Saz - 2-Mar-21 @ 8:48 PM
Does a 5 year restrictive covenant start when the first house is bought or from when I bought mine 10 months later
Sue - 20-Feb-21 @ 11:42 PM
There is a covenant on houses in the estatewhere I live which states that no trade or business should be carried out at the property. But someone in my road is a builder and parks several builders trucks and vans along the road. It is a cul de sac and this causes other vehicles problems getting through, and the verges being driven over. Is there anything residents can do about these vehicles.
JT61 - 23-Jan-21 @ 8:51 PM
I have a restricted covanant on my property ,I'm not allowed to put up a permanent structure is a fence on the front of my property this was part of the deal in 1985 when the housing estate was built ,as there's no pavement in the cul de sac where I am ,the problem I have is the public waking through using my land as a foot path and a dog fouling area ,I'm getting a little miffed shoveling it back at the dog owners ,seems ironic I pay a lot of money for the property and council tax too ,yet this covanant says I can't put a fence on my property ,,by I can put a hedge or potted planters ,any ideas of a way of getting this restriction lifted ,thanks
Slippy - 16-Nov-20 @ 4:00 PM
My new neighbour has just planted a line of trees along our border . The houses are only 6 years old and there is a covenant in place saying he shouldn’t. I have mentioned this will no response. What should I do next?
Tilly - 19-Sep-20 @ 12:04 PM
We have a restrictive covenant regarding alterations and extensions and we must gain consent by the original builder. The builder ceased trading in 1998 and the director have now both passed away. Do I still need consent and who from? does anyone know the answer
Bob - 16-Sep-20 @ 4:29 PM
In response to "Marbella - 26-Oct-19 @ 6:40 AM" If the house was sold to you on the understanding that all properties had mutually beneficial restrictive covenants re no business then you need legal advice. However, your neighbour still needs to apply for change of use via the planning department and you would then have the opportunity to raise your concerns and objections re parking, noise, hours of operation then etc.It is not a foregone conclusion that your neighbour will get the permission even if she is already carrying out her business at home. Is a beauty business - selling products or services? If it is services like facials then she can only do one client at a time and therefore there wouldn't be much increased traffic.If it is a new estate then parking is possibly an issue. Hope your move went ok and you have sorted things out with your neighbour.
regalswan - 29-Aug-20 @ 2:27 PM
Covenant restricts further dwellings being erected on my property, is there a way around this. Area of .7 acre approx. I have bought-out the ground rent
Susie88 - 24-Aug-20 @ 10:50 AM
My property has a covenant restricting further dwellingsbeing erected, is there a way round this I have bought-out my ground rent.
Susiie87 - 24-Aug-20 @ 10:44 AM
We purchased a new build 2 years ago and an architect friend has said that our houses would need planning permission to erect any structure. Our neighbours have just erected an out house that takes up half their garden, goes right up to our fence and is approximately 8.5 foot tall. They didnt inform us that they were doing this and it literally boxes our garden in. Its horrible. Our deeds state: Not to do anything at the property that would cause loss, damage, injury, nuisance, annoyance, disturbance or inconvenience to the transferor or the occupiers of any neighbouring property. .. Does this mean they cant build this structure and how do i go about getting it taken down? thanks
Lean73 - 4-Aug-20 @ 4:34 PM
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