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How to deal with a Restrictive Covenant on a Property

Posted on: 27/05/2022

In this article, Commercial Property Solicitor Patsy Whitford looks at the implications of having a restrictive covenant on a property that you own or are looking to buy.

Patsy goes on to outline what happens when a covenant is breached and discusses how you can remove a covenant from your property.

What is a restrictive covenant on property?

A restrictive covenant (RC) is something that is recorded against your property and normally restricts you from doing something, for example:

  • Changing the look of the outside of your house,
  • Putting up an extension, or
  • Using your property for commercial use.

It is worth noting that restrictive covenants are completely independent from a planning permission, so you do not automatically get consent to a breach of a RC if you have obtained planning permission.

What are some examples of restrictive covenants?

The most common and problematic covenants prevent changes to a property, such as altering the existing property or preventing new constructions or a change of use. 

That said, restrictive covenants come in a number of different forms, from incredibly restrictive as described above, down to less relevant ones such as prohibiting extraction of sand to make bricks or preventing you from keeping pigs!

Do restrictive covenants devalue a property?

They can do, as there is such a broad level of what is restricted. 

Can I build on land with a restrictive covenant?

Hopefully, yes!  There are a number of ways of dealing with restrictive covenants from getting an indemnity policy to cover the risk if someone seeks to enforce the covenant to obtaining the consent of the person who benefits from the restrictive covenant. 

As every restrictive covenant is different, the options available to deal with it are different. 

However, as a word of warning, you must be very careful when dealing with RCs as trying to obtain consent from the relevant person removes your ability to get indemnity insurance.    

What happens if you breach a restrictive covenant?

The person who has the benefit of the restrictive covenant can seek to enforce it.

Worst case scenario, you could have to demolish any building built in contravention of the covenant or make a significant payment for retrospective consent. 

There is also no set payment scale for consent to a breach of restrictive covenant, so this could be very pricey!

What can I do if the property I’m buying has a restrictive covenant?

Click here to read the full article.

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