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Old 7th August 2018, 10:59 AM
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Default Restrictive Covenants

So, longish story...

Someone has bought the house across the road (and renting it out) which has a double garage and small side garden. They've applied for planning permission to demolish the garage and build another detached house in place of it and the garden!

The planning was oddly granted, all the neighbours objected as it's a tiny plot with not enough space and it'll be overlooking the garden of the house behind (only 4.5m away reducing to 2.5m as at an angle), plus the parking spaces don't actually meet the council's standards as they are too narrow!

I then noticed that there is a restrictive covenant which is to benefit the whole estate (as a building scheme) which says that the plot cannot be used "otherwise than as a single private dwelling house". My home legal insurance won't cover to enforce the covenant since nothing has happened yet, if they start building it'll be a nuisance so might then.

I and my neighbours would rather get something done before they start though since it'll be a major inconvenience on a narrow road. Does anyone have any experience in this? I was thinking of writing a letter to warn them it'll be breaking the covenant. Probably don't want to threaten legal action as it'll just get them wound up but feel they ought to know, or know that others know in case they are aware. Not sure where to begin really...
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Old 7th August 2018, 11:48 AM
MikkiJayne MikkiJayne is offline
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It is possible to have a covenant removed - I looked in to it many years ago when I wanted to build a garage. Could they have done that before applying for planning?

It might be worth writing to the council's planning department and enquiring whether the covenant has been removed. If it hasn't, that might prompt some action from them.
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Old 7th August 2018, 12:20 PM
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I don't think this one has been removed, I have downloaded the title register from Land Registry and it is still showing there, plus it's mutually enforceable between all houses on the estate so we'd all have to agree to it I think.

I expect the owners know about the covenant and are looking to see if it will be enforced, seems odd they'd go to all the trouble if they aren't allowed to build it.

I've not mentioned it to the council, I didn't think they'd be concerned with what isn't really a planning issue? Might be worth mentioning it to them as you suggest.
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Old 7th August 2018, 01:15 PM
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I don't know how planning works in the rest of the UK, but here in Northern Ireland it goes through the local council. If that were the case, then they would/should have blocked the planning application as it was in breach of two different rules, the covenant of 'a single dwelling' and the parking, and also for the fact that everyone objected to it.

If that is how it works there, then I can only suggest that these people 'know' someone in the council, and that is how the planning application got passed. Personally, I'd try and get the local papers involved to highlight what is going on, as the whole purpose of a planning application (and the associated covenants, council standards and objections) is to ensure that any application meets and adheres to the rules and regulations set in place.
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Old 8th August 2018, 07:50 AM
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Yes, It does go through our local council. I've asked them if they consider covenants when deciding on applications, just waiting for their answer.

It's very odd how it got approved, it took ages and it's not just the parking spaces but that it is so close to the boundary to the rear property too, it doesn't even meet the national space standards, although they changed the plans by replacing a double bed with a single to make it look like it does!

It smells like someone knows someone in the council, but it's all a waste for them if the covenant is there. Per haps they're chancing their arm that it'll be ignored. I've tried the press but no reply from them.

Calling my home insurance and they say that if the building work starts then I'll be covered due to the breach. Will be sending a letter to the owner to warn them off though.
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Old 8th August 2018, 08:06 AM
HPsauce HPsauce is offline
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I would doubt if a covenant was a planning issue, as noted above covenants can be lifted if due process is followed. Even if, as it would appear in this case, that is extremely difficult.

We have a weird covenant on our property that has at least 3 issues:
1. It's not actually possible to understand what it means as it's so badly worded. Anything or nothing....
2. The parties to it are untraceable and probably long dead.
3. Ordinary work on our house by us and previous owners could, in some interpretations, have already breached it - many times.
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Old 8th August 2018, 11:54 AM
MikkiJayne MikkiJayne is offline
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The covenant on my house says that I'm not allowed to build any permanent structures, so that means no brick garage. I spoke to the council's planning dept and they said an application would be rejected because of the covenant so I would have to have that removed first. Interestingly, a concrete sectional garage is not a permanent structure since its bolted together, but I just built a shed instead

Definitely smacks of some insider knowledge or brown envelopes.
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Old 8th August 2018, 12:35 PM
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There are some odd covenants! Mine even says I'm not allowed to park on the road outside the house or in front of the building line!

The people who bought the house snapped it up before it went on the market properly, even paid about 10k more than market value according to Zoopla. It's owned by a limited company rather than an individual too.
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Old 8th August 2018, 02:39 PM
mattylondon mattylondon is offline
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I wouldn't worry too much and just relax. RC's that are on title deeds are common upon ex-local authority housing estates and developer built estates with the latter being another cash cow from the freehold owner to the developer. These RC's can be removed as they are not seen to be in perpetude such as an easement.

Under the NPPF the default decision is to approve development if an application meets policy - even with overwhelming public objections. Of which the objections should be on policy only as the planning officers will disregard non meaningful objections. There's no right to a view, there will always be development of some sort and overlooking concerns can be mitigated. It's highly doubtful any cash or secret handshakes have gone on.

Also, if it's showing a company has bought the title deeds to the land then applying for planning permission is part of the due diligence process when starting development / money making.....! It's sensible to obtain consent first then deal with any remaining land law matters, if any. The RC is only broken once development has begun. However it could be interpreted that after the garden grab technically it still is "otherwise than as a single private dwelling house".

Anyhow, it's highly likely they may sell both plots now and take the quick profit as they may not be into the long haul of construction. It's all business.
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Last edited by mattylondon; 8th August 2018 at 03:13 PM.
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