In prop­er­ty or land, a restric­tive covenant is a promise not to do cer­tain things with that prop­er­ty or land for the ben­e­fit of oth­er land. They there­fore amount to a restric­tion on the use of a property.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, under Eng­lish Law, a covenant was dis­tin­guished from an ordi­nary con­tract by the pres­ence of a seal; the seal reflect­ed a solemn promise.

It is impor­tant to know what restric­tive covenants affect your prop­er­ty or the prop­er­ty you are poten­tial­ly pur­chas­ing as they may affect your use or future use of it.

Restric­tive covenants run with the land” which means they bind the land/​property, so even if a per­son was to sell the prop­er­ty, the restric­tive covenants will con­tin­ue to have an effect and there­fore bind the new own­er of the property.

Restric­tive covenants also con­tin­ue to have effect even if they have been made many years ago and appear obsolete.

An exam­ple of an old covenant that I have recent­ly come across in prac­tice is one that was imposed on a prop­er­ty in 1851, which read Not to be used as a Quoit­ing Ground”. I was some­what per­plexed at this covenant, as it was­n’t some­thing I’d seen before, but thanks to the won­ders of Google, I soon learnt that Quoits’ is a tra­di­tion­al game involv­ing the throw­ing of rings over a set dis­tance, usu­al­ly to land over or near a spike. The game was pop­u­lar in Eng­land, espe­cial­ly north­ern Eng­land, in the 19th Cen­tu­ry, hence its pres­ence in a Deed from 1851.

Although this exam­ple appears obso­lete, it still binds the prop­er­ty in ques­tion and will con­tin­ue to do so.

More mod­ern exam­ples of restric­tive covenants that I fre­quent­ly see include:

  • No trade or busi­ness to be car­ried out at the property.
  • No struc­tur­al alter­ations or exten­sions with­out consent.
  • No caravans/​boats/​commercial vehi­cles to be kept at the property.
  • Not to keep chick­ens or oth­er domes­tic poultry. 

Some restric­tive covenants are imposed to guar­an­tee uni­for­mi­ty, such as all front doors should remain paint­ed black on no oth­er colour, whilst oth­ers I reg­u­lar­ly see in apart­ment Leas­es are covenants such as no ani­mals or pets to be kept at the prop­er­ty’ and floors must be cov­ered in carpets’.

Any restric­tive covenants effect­ing the prop­er­ty will be con­tained in the Charges Reg­is­ter of the Title to the prop­er­ty (and if the Prop­er­ty is Lease­hold, will appear in the Lease) and it is our role as solic­i­tor to check the covenants, check for any breach­es and report to the client.

If a per­son choos­es to ignore a restric­tive covenant, it can be enforced by the Court and they could poten­tial­ly face a claim in dam­ages for the breach in addi­tion to an injunc­tion for­bid­ding the land own­er to break the covenant.

The law relat­ing to restric­tive covenants is extreme­ly com­plex. If you require fur­ther advice regard­ing restric­tive covenants, or oth­er prop­er­ty mat­ters, please get in touch on 01625 523988 or mail@​JBGass.​com