A restrictive covenant is a legal agreement between parties, usually relating to property, that limits the use of a property, or restricts certain actions that can be taken on the property. These covenants are often found in deeds or other legal documents related to the ownership or use of property.
If you’re reading this post, maybe you have a restrictive covenant limiting how you can use or change your property, and you want it removed. This article will give you a complete breakdown of the costs to remove a restrictive covenant, as well as what options you have if you can’t remove it.
Common examples of restrictive covenants
Restrictive covenants prevent property owners from making changes to their property, or from carrying out certain activities on the property. Here are common examples of restrictive covenants:
- Restriction on building an extension or making other physical alterations to a property
- Restriction on building additional properties on land
- Restriction on height of fences, walls and outbuildings
- Restriction on keeping livestock or animals on the property
- Restriction on keeping a caravan on the property
- Restriction on whether a business or trade can be conducted on the property
- Restriction on noise or other nuisance to your neighbours
What happens if you ignore a restrictive covenant?
If you breach the terms of a restrictive covenant, you can face legal reproductions. It doesn’t matter whether you breached a restrictive covenant knowingly or unknowingly – all breaches can result in legal action. You should consult a solicitor if you think you have breached a restrictive covenant.
If you have built a structure on your property that is in breech, such as a wall, extension or building, you could be ordered by a court to remove it. If you’re in breech because you’ve caused a nuisance, neighbours could sue you.
What is the cost to remove a restrictive covenant?
The cost to remove a restrictive covenant can range anywhere from £0 to several thousands of pounds. We’ll discuss in more detail below:
How to remove a restrictive covenant for free
If you have a restrictive covenant impacting your property that you want modified or discharged, the simplest and cheapest thing to do is to simply ask the landowner or landowners of the benefiting land for permission to change the covenant. If they agree in writing that you can build or conduct activity that is contrary to the restrictive covenant, then it will have cost you close to nothing in most cases.
Costs start to arise when the landowner of the benefiting land does NOT grant you permission.
In England or Wales, if you can’t get permission from the landowner of the benefiting land, to change the covenant, you can escalate the matter to the Lands Chamber. The Lands Chamber is a tribunal whose sole purpose is to resolve disputes over restrictive covenants.
How much does it cost to remove a restrictive covenant via the Lands Chamber?
The fee for lodging an application to discharge or modify restrictive covenants is £880. The fee for an official hearing is £1,100. It’s possible that the tribunal will make a decision without a hearing i.e. if there are no objections submitted. If this happens, you’ll have to pay just £275 instead of £1,100.
Assuming there’s a hearing, the Lands Chamber may decide to grant you the ability to modify or discharge the restrictive covenant, but in doing so they might also make it conditional. For example, the Lands Chamber may decide that you can modify the restrictive covenant only if you pay a sum of money to the landowner of the benefiting land, to compensate them for whatever negative impact they will need to endure as a result of the modification or discharge.
There are some additional fees that may be charged during the process of removing a restrictive covenant, as follows:
- £110 fee if you apply for time extension to allow extra time to comply with the conditions set out by the Lands Chamber
- £550 fee is payable by you (the applicant) if someone objects to your application and another hearing is then needed to determine if the objector should even be allowed to object.
- £220 is charged for drawing up the Tribunal’s final order. You pay this only if you win the case.
Don’t forget solicitors’ fees! Solicitors’ fees in the UK can range between £177 to £512 per hour, depending on experience. You don’t necessarily need to have a solicitor to make an application to the Lands Chamber, but having one who is experienced in restrictive covenants and who understands the inner workings of the Lands Chamber might offer your application a distinct advantage.
Solicitors charge per hour. The overall cost will depend on how drawn out and complex the process is. The below factors may determine the solicitor’s fees.
- Is the matter settled without a tribunal
- If someone objects to your application, do you have a second hearing to argue why the objector has no right to object
- How many different grounds of objection there are and how many different objectors there are
- Is there any legal paperwork needed in meeting the conditions set out by the Lands Chamber, or while waiting for the final outcome i.e. interim injunctions.
It’s best to try and get a cost estimate from your solicitor before you make your application.
How much time does it take to remove a restrictive covenant via the Lands Chamber?
It can take anywhere between 6 to 24 months to remove a restrictive covenant via the Lands Chamber. The time will depend on the number of different factors, as follows:
- How many objections there are against the removal of the restrictive covenant
- The number of tribunal hearings that are needed
- How much time it takes you to comply with conditions or contingencies set out by the tribunal
What other options do you have?
If you have tried to discharge or modify the restrictive covenant with little success, or if you just don’t want to go through the painstaking process of removing it, you won’t have many other options except to either live with the restrictions in the covenant, or to sell your property and move somewhere that will give you the freedom to do what you want to do. If you need to sell your property urgently, Property Rescue can help. We specialise in buying properties fast, and we can buy any property regardless of condition, including those with restrictive covenants. Drop us a message and we’ll give you a free, on the spot cash offer for your property today. We can exchange contracts in under a week if needed.