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Restrictive covenants, what on earth are they?

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Most buyers don’t know what restrictive covenants are, often they will buy a house and not realise the implications of restrictions that is on the land which will in all instances also travel with the land to its new successors. A restrictive covenant prevents the covenantor from doing certain actions such as the use or purpose of the land or actions such as building on the land.

So how can the covenants be enforced? From the case of Mortimer v Bailey whom set the precedent for enforcements, the remedy for such breach will be an injunction, even after the actions or breach has been performed the court may grant injunction rather than damages, so it is not safe to assume that you can build on the land, wait till the building is finished than to simply pay damages, but the court does have the power to award damages in lieu of injunction.

So how do I find out if the property I am buying has these restrictions? The answer is easy, ask your solicitor, before the exchange of contracts, your solicitors should have prepared a report called ‘report before purchase’ within that it advices you of all the positive and restrictive covenants.

Keep an eye out for these covenants, some properties are de-valued due to the restrictions, and some buyers are put off by ‘not being able to build a shed in the garden’ or ‘not being able to have their front garden fenced off’ or even ‘changing their front door!’

Be Smart and Buy Wisely!

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