Removing Restrictive Covenants on Land

In the UK, the ownership of land often comes with a set of restrictions known as restrictive covenants. These covenants, established through legal agreements, impose limitations on how the land can be used or developed.

While these restrictions may have served a purpose at the time of creation, they can sometimes become outdated or overly burdensome for property owners. In such cases, individuals may seek to remove or modify the restrictive covenant to better suit their current needs or to unlock the full potential of their land.

What are restrictive covenants on land?

Restrictive covenants are legally binding conditions typically included into a property’s deed or contract, aimed at constraining the land’s use by the owner. These covenants serve to limit or prohibit specific uses or actions to protect the worth and pleasure of neighbouring properties.

Successors in title are bound by the restrictive covenants that apply to the land, even though they did not originally agree to them.

Common restrictive covenant examples include restrictions on commercial property activities within residential zones, bans in building additional structures, and requirements to uphold the architectural style of a neighbourhood.

For instance, a covenant might prohibit a new homeowner from adding a contemporary extension to a historically designed row of residences, with the intention of conserving the area’s aesthetic and historical significance.

It is important to understand that restrictive covenants are completely independent from planning permissions. Therefore, obtaining planning permission does not automatically grant consent to breach a restrictive covenant.

Removing restrictive covenants on land

Removing restrictive covenants on land in the UK can be a complex legal process that typically involves one of the following methods:

  1. Negotiation and Agreement: The most straightforward approach is to negotiate with the parties who put the covenant in place to release or modify it. This often involves demonstrating that the covenant no longer serves its original purpose or that removing it would not negatively impact the affected parties. Negotiation may also include offering compensation to the beneficiaries in exchange for their consent to have the restrictive covenant removed or modified.
  2. Applying to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber): If negotiation fails, an application can be made to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) under Section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925. The tribunal has the authority to discharge or modify restrictive covenants if it is deemed that the restrictive covenant affects the reasonable use of the land and provides no practical benefit to the beneficiaries. The applicant must demonstrate that the restriction is obsolete, that it unreasonably restricts the landowner’s use of the property, or that the benefit of the covenant no longer exists.
  3. Indemnity Insurance: In some cases, landowners may opt to purchase indemnity insurance to protect against potential losses resulting from breaching the covenant. This approach does not remove the covenant but provides financial coverage in case the beneficiaries of the covenant take legal action.
  4. Deed of Release: If all parties involved agree, a formal Deed of Release can be executed to release the land from the restrictive covenant. This document must be properly drafted and executed to ensure its legality and effectiveness.

It is important to note that the process of removing restrictive covenants can vary depending on the specific circumstances and legal complexities involved. Seeking practical advice from a qualified solicitor with experience in property law is highly recommended to navigate the process effectively and ensure compliance with relevant legal requirements.

Additionally, conducting thorough due diligence to understand the implications and potential consequences of removing the covenant is essential before proceeding with any action.

The role of solicitors when removing restrictive covenants on land

Restrictive covenant solicitors have in-depth knowledge and understanding of property law, including the laws and regulations governing restrictive covenants. They can advise you on the legal implications of the covenant and the available options for removing it.

Before initiating the process of removing a restrictive covenant, a specialist property solicitor can conduct thorough due diligence to assess the validity and enforceability of the covenant. They will review the property deeds, land registry records, and any relevant documentation to identify the parties involved and understand the terms of the covenant.

Whether it’s a Deed of Release, an indemnity agreement, or other legal documents required for removing the covenant, your property solicitor can draft these documents accurately and ensure they comply with all legal requirements.

A property dispute lawyer can assist parties by conducting alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and negotiation, to help both parties reach a mutual agreement.

How can Expert Commercial Law assist?

When removing restrictive covenants on land, it is important to seek legal advice and assistance. A property litigation team can ensure the right approach is being taken and that applications are being made correctly.

Please note we are not a firm of solicitors. We maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts. If you contact us in relation to a commercial law case, we will pass your case on to a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm.

Each solicitor is vetted before being allowed onto our panel, and we only select the best in the business. All of our solicitor firms are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Our panel solicitors also help with commercial claims, such as breach of contractwinding up proceedings and statutory demands.

Please contact us using the form below to speak to a solicitor on our panel.

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Please note, we are not a firm of solicitors; however, we maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts. If you contact us in relation to a commercial law case, we will pass your case onto a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm. 

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