11 Oct 2023
A covenant is a promise, and when used in property law, is a promise that is usually legally binding on the parties to the deed in which the covenants are contained.
So, if a covenant is a legally binding promise, then restrictive covenants are a legally binding promise that prohibits something from being done.
Typically, a modern source for such covenants would be a developer of a newbuild site imposing the covenants in the transfer deed to the first owner of the property. The covenants stay on the title to the property no matter how many times a property is sold. They are binding not only on the first owner of the property but future owners too.
The aim of imposing restrictive covenants is usually to maintain standards in the area where the property is built.
Restrictive covenants affect a prospective purchaser as once completion takes place, and the buyer has their keys, they will be bound by any restrictive covenants that may affect the land. If you are buying a property that is subject to covenants that are the same or similar to those set out above, then your intention to build a large extension with bi-fold doors looking out over your garden, or to start keeping rare species of snakes and spiders may be challenged by those with the ability to do so!
More often than not, if a restrictive covenant is broken, for example a homeowner builds an extension without the required permission, there are no consequences other than the requirement, once the homeowner comes to sell the property, to either obtain an indemnity policy for lack of permission or to obtain retrospective permission from the person or company that imposed the covenant.
Restrictive covenants are not always a bad thing as they can stop a neighbour from making changes to their own house that could affect the value and quality of your own property.