COVENANTS – DON’T PANIC – IT IS JUST TIME TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Rachel Johnston of Stacks Property Search & Acquisition, says, “About 20% of the country properties we get involved in buying have some kind of restrictive covenant on them.
“Restrictive covenants are, to put it simply, a kind of private planning control, restricting the development or use of land, enforceable by one landowner against another. They are generally attached to the property or piece of land, so they apply to successive owners.
They can vary from the simple, to the complicated; from the sublime to the ridiculous. For example, not being able to have pets, not being able to grow plants above a certain height, not having an outside washing line to the more deal-breaking such as not to be able to build, add an extension or convert an outbuilding.
“But on balance, I would say that the most annoying kind of covenant is the one you don’t find out about until the solicitor alerts you when you’re way down the buying process. So always ask the question when you’re buying – ‘Are there any restrictive covenants?’. Ask the agent and/or the vendor, and don’t accept a vague response. If there are any restrictive covenants, make sure you ascertain the full details, and do not be persuaded by the agent, vendor or the vendor’s solicitor that it is ‘not a problem’. That is for you and your solicitor to decide.
“If you find there is a restrictive covenant on the property you intend to buy, don’t panic and run, consider the following:
- Will it affect what you want to do with the property?
- If it does, can it be overturned?
- If it doesn’t affect you, is it likely to affect future purchasers and will it therefore become a problem when you come to sell?
“If you want to get a covenant removed, there are generally two ways to go about it. Firstly you can approach the property or landowner who currently holds the covenant, and depending on what you want to do, and how it will affect them, they may consider agreeing to the development, possibly at a cost to you.
“Alternatively, if a covenant appears to be out of date, or unreasonable, you can apply to the Lands Tribunal for its removal or amendment. Circumstances may have changed and the covenant is no longer relevant, or there is no evidence of any beneficiaries from the covenant.
“If you’re buying on an estate of houses, they may all be subjective to restrictive covenants designed to protect the overall look. While these will obviously affect you, maybe preventing you from parking a caravan, or painting the property a different colour, they are generally more of a good thing than a bad, preventing your neighbours from ruining your surroundings and outlook. Some are more pedantic than others, so check carefully when buying new. The covenants can be enforced by any of the neighbours (not just the developer) against any of the others.”
As your Buying Agent, Stacks would take care of all of these trying matters – perhaps it is time you gave Rachel a call to explore how Stacks can provide valuable assistance for your house purchase, far beyond the shortlisting of possible houses. Click Here to learn more how a Buying Agent’s service can help you.