Covenants and Restrictions Advice from Luton Solicitors

Conveyancing Solicitors in Luton representing house-buyers frequently find restrictions or covenants contained in previous title deeds that properties are still subject to. These are often now irrelevant, such as covenants that any house built on the land ‘should be of not less value than £500’. Such old covenants were intended to ensure that an area was developed to a uniform standard, and occasionally old deeds even include a drawing showing how the front of the building must look.   Another covenant contained in a 1932 conveyance of a house in Luton required any house built on the land to be ‘in the modern look’ – the house did appear to be a typical 1930’s house, so did not appear to breach the covenant!

However when a Fridaysmove recommended Conveyancing Solicitors was acting for the buyers of a house in Ketton Close, Luton, LU2 she found that the title contained a somewhat surprising provision, as this extract from the registered title shows:

“A Transfer of the land in this title and other land dated 15 August 1936 made between (1) Frederick George Powdrill and Winifred Alberta Powdrill (Transferors) and (2) Hugh Cumberland and others (Transferees) contains the following covenants:- "The Transferees hereby jointly and severally covenant with the Transferors for the benefit of the remainder of the land comprised in Title No. P151364 that the land hereby transferred or any building to be hereafter erected thereon shall not be used for the purpose of carrying on any trade or business other than that of a Physician Surgeon or Dentist but so that this provision shall not preclude the use of the land hereby transferred for burial purposes in conjunction with and as an addition to The Luton Church Cemetary [sic] And further that they the Transferees will maintain good and sufficient boundary fences or hedges to separate the land hereby transferred from the surrounding or adjoining land of the Transferors and it is hereby declared that all the boundary fences or hedges are or shall be and remain the sole property of the Transferees. "

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The house in question had been built by Wimpeys in about 1968, as part of a larger development. It was assumed that when the land was sold in 1936 it was intended to be used as an addition to the Luton Church Cemetery, hence the provision permitting the use of the land for burial purposes. The land had obviously not been used for that purpose, and later sold for housing development. The buyers were not intending to use their house for burials, nor did they intend to carry on any trade or business. These activities would now require planning consent in any case, but the covenants dated from before modern planning legislation had come into being.

Although such old covenants are often irrelevant, transfers of modern houses in Luton also usually include covenants prohibiting various activities which are regarded as un-neighbourly, such as repairing cars on front drives or hanging out washing at the front of the house. Keeping a boat or caravan on a drive is often prohibited. It has to be said that such covenants are often widely ignored, but Conveyancing Solicitors acting for buyers have to inform clients of their existence. Neighbouring owners do sometimes take action to enforce covenants, usually to try and stop a house being extended. If a Conveyancing Solicitor discovers that there is an existing breach of covenant they will not want the buyer to proceed unless they are reasonably satisfied that no-one is likely to take legal action. They will also ask the seller to pay for an indemnity insurance policy, which would indemnify the buyer against any loss or costs if there was a problem after completion.

If you have any plans to extend or alter the house you are buying in Luton, it will help if you inform your Conveyancing Solicitor so that they can consider whether you would be affected by any such covenants. Fridaysmove works with Conveyancing Solicitors who are fully experienced in this area, and will be able to assist with any property Conveyancing in Luton.