How do I find out what restrictive covenants are on my property?

Restrictive covenants set out certain limitations in the way in which a property can be used. For example, building on a certain area may be prohibited or there could be restrictions on the size of an extension. Covenants can be wide ranging and breaching them may be costly. We answer the question, How do I find out what restrictive covenants are on my property? and look at what to do if a covenant has not been observed.

At Lockings Solicitors, our property solicitors can advise you of your rights and responsibilities in respect of restrictive covenants. If you are buying a property, we will make sure you are aware of any covenants that exist over the property. We will also ask the seller to confirm that these have not been breached.

We have wide experience of dealing with property matters and we can provide you with the guidance you need. We can also deal with complex and time-sensitive issues, such as the breach of restrictive covenants if you are selling your property and restrictive covenant disputes.

Call us on 01482 300 200, email us at or fill in our Free Online Enquiry and we will call you back promptly. We have offices in Beverley, Hull and York and represent clients across the UK and abroad if the matter relates to English property and estates.

What are restrictive covenants?

Restrictive covenants are legal restrictions that apply to a property and that the property owner must observe. Common examples include:

  • Not building anything forward of the build line at a property
  • Not fencing an open front garden
  • Not adding an extension above a certain size
  • Not making alterations without written consent
  • Not having animals or livestock at the property
  • Not running a business from the property
  • Not storing a caravan at the property
  • Not putting up a satellite dish
  • Not doing anything which could cause a nuisance or annoyance
  • No noise before and after certain times of the day

Restrictive covenants are imposed by the seller of a property and are binding on all future purchasers. This means that some restrictive covenants will have been made decades ago. It is also the case that new homes will usually have a long list of restrictive covenants.

Why do restrictive covenants exist?

Generally speaking, restrictive covenants exist to regulate the way in which a property is used for the benefit of everyone in the neighbourhood. Modern homes have restrictive covenants that will try to allow everyone to have quiet enjoyment of their properties and to keep the area looking relatively uniform by banning actions such as extensions to the front, visible fencing, satellite dishes or caravans.

How do I find out what restrictive covenants are on my property?

When you go through the conveyancing process, your solicitor should draw your attention to all of the restrictive covenants that apply to the property you are buying. In addition, they will ask the seller’s solicitor to confirm that none of the restrictive covenants have been breached. For example, if there is a requirement that written approval is given for an extension, your solicitor will ask for a copy of this.

Restrictive covenants are found in the title deeds to the property. They may be listed on the Land Register or referred to in an old conveyance or transfer document.

If we handle your conveyancing, we will check the restrictive covenants, let you have a copy of them and ask the seller’s solicitor whether they have all been observed. If they have not, we will discuss the situation with you and the way that this can be dealt with.

What if I can’t find out who has the benefit of a restrictive covenant?

It is not always easy to identify who has the benefit of a restrictive covenant, particularly in the case of older properties. This can be important if a covenant requires you to seek permission for something.

We can advise you of your options, including obtaining indemnity insurance or applying to have the covenant removed.

What happens if a restrictive covenant is breached?

If a restrictive covenant is breached, the individual or company with the benefit of it can take steps to enforce it. This can include requiring any work that breaches the restriction to be undone and the property put back the way it was.

The reality is that restrictive covenants are frequently breached, particularly if a property owner is not aware of their existence or forgets about them or is unable to local the individual with the benefit of the covenant.

This is not always a problem. For example, if you are selling a property and a restrictive covenant was breached a long time ago, the buyer may be prepared to accept an indemnity policy. This is insurance which would give them cover, should the individual ever make themselves known and object to the breach. Provided you can confirm that there have been no objections to the breach, it is usually relatively easy to obtain cover. The policy would generally be put in place on completion of the sale.

Can I remove a restrictive covenant?

If you know who has the benefit of the restrictive covenant, you can approach them and ask if they are prepared to release it. You may need to pay for this, including the related legal fees. If the property is on a modern estate where all homes have the same covenants, the developer is fairly unlikely to agree.

If the restrictive covenant is an old one, you cannot find the person benefiting from it and it serves no useful purpose, it may be possible to have it discharged or modified. This is done by applying to the court known as the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). This is a court that specialises in this type of property matter.

There is a process which needs to be followed in making the application, including placing advertisements asking for individuals with interest in the covenant to come forward. The court may also require notice to be served on owners of other land who it believes could have an interest in the proceedings. If no-one raises an objection, the court has the authority to remove the restriction without the need for a hearing.

If you would like to remove a restrictive covenant, we can advise you of your options, to include giving you our opinion as to the likelihood of success.

Contact our East Yorkshire and York area restrictive covenant solicitors

If you have a query regarding restrictive covenants over your property, we will be happy to help.

Call us on 01482 300 200, email us at or fill in our Free Online Enquiry and we will call you back promptly. We have offices in Beverley, Hull and York and represent clients across the UK and abroad if the matter relates to English property and estates.

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