Restrictive covenants are binding statements that are made part of a property’s title deed to make sure that as the property is transferred from one owner to another, certain essential conditions, such as protection of the property’s original structure is maintained. While this blog post will mainly focus on the costs of having restrictive covenants removed from one’s title deed, we will also explore other areas of UK laws related to housing and homebuilding.

How Much Does It Cost To Remove A Restrictive Covenant?

The costs associated with removing a restrictive covenant can be classified as follows:

Action to be takenAverage cost 
Fee to lodge an application with the aim to modify restrictive covenants£880
Fee in lieu of hearing proceeds£1100
Fee for tribunal decision without a hearing£275
Application for an extension to comply with tribunal’s decision£110
Fee for a hearing to determine objector’s entitlement£550
Drawing up of the tribunal’s final order£220

While the above is a summary of the fee payable to the Land’s Tribunal, there may be additional legal costs that you may incur if you wish to have a restrictive covenant removed from the title deed of your land. If you believe that you may be eligible for a reduced fee, you may find guidance on the court and tribunal form.

It may take anywhere between 18 to 24 months to remove or modify a restrictive covenant from your title deed.

If you want to save time and money, you may consider alternatives to a tribunal proceeding. For instance, you may choose to resolve the dispute over a covenant through alternative dispute resolution or mediation.

What Are Some Of The Most Common Restrictive Covenants?

While restrictive covenants may vary from conditions such as disallowing the use of a residential property for commercial purposes to maintaining the original structure of the building, there are certain common restrictive covenants such as the ones listed below:

  • Additional structures cannot be built on the property. 
  • The building’s height cannot be altered. 
  • Consent is required before alterations are made to the main structure of the building. 
  • The front garden cannot be used to park commercial vehicles, caravans or boats. 
  • The garden must be kept tidy/grass must be kept trimmed. 
  • Installation of CCTV cameras is prohibited. 
  • Placement of satellite dishes is not allowed on the property. 
  • There is a restriction on the types or numbers of pet animals kept on the property. 
  • Musical instruments are allowed only at specified times to reduce.

What Is Restrictive Covenant?

Simply put, a restrictive covenant is a condition(s) stated by the seller in the title deed of a property to which the buyer(s) must adhere. If there has been a series of buyers, they may all have to abide by it when they purchase the property.

Restrictive covenants that are time-bound may easily be removed from the title deed when the time period comes to an end. Similarly, if a restrictive covenant becomes obsolete due to the passage of time and losing its relevance, property owners may find it easier to convince the original seller to have the restriction(s) removed or go to court for a simple proceeding.

With the removal of a restrictive covenant, property owners will then have to assess whether the modifications that they intend to their property will fall under Permitted Development, or will they need to consult Building Regulations or is it something that needs Planning Permission. 

While restrictive covenants are usually placed with the intention of protecting the heritage of a property, they may, at times, reduce its market value.

What Is Planning Permission?

Planning Permission is seeking the approval of authorities to make certain changes to the property that you own. Under the UK government, this responsibility falls under the local planning authorities.

If you intend to build something new on your property, make a major change to the structure of the property such as an extension or change the use of your building you will need Planning Permission before you start the project.

What Is Permitted Development?

The scope of Permitted Development runs across varied projects that may be related to the internal or external structure of a property. Home improvement projects under  Permitted Development include the following:

  • the building of a small rear extension 
  • construction of a porch 
  • changes of use including loft, garage or basement conversions
  • knocking down of internal walls
  • installation of solar panels 
  • installation of satellite dishes 
  • addition of roof lights or dormer windows

What Are Building Regulations?

These are some basic standards for the design and structural changes that are to occur and are essential to be met during construction, conversion or refurbishment of properties. Building Regulations have been set to assure that the health and safety of the residents will not be compromised in any way as a result of the said modifications to the property. 

These include the following:

  • Structural changes such as house extensions or conversions should not affect a load-bearing wall, beam or chimney breast which will make access to property difficult. 
  • There should be no electrical safety concerns due to the addition of fuse boxes or plugs, or a change of electrics that causes new electrical wiring.
  • Installation of heating appliances such as a boiler, radiator or fuel-burning appliance should be managed with extreme caution.
  • There should be no concern for fire hazards due to construction work and the escape route (of the added/converted section to the premises) must comply with fire safety standards.
  • Installation of a new bathroom or kitchen should not affect the overall plumbing of the house.
  • New windows, doors or fixed air-conditioning systems should meet the safety and design standards set by Building Regulations.

Will Changes To Property Affect My Council Tax Bill?

There are certain circumstances due to which properties may be revalued and their bands reassigned by the local council. Below is a list of factors that may cause a change in band:

  • a part of your property is demolished and is not rebuilt
  • the property is altered to subdivide it into self-contained units, (this could be a single unit with an annexe – each unit will be considered under a separate band) 
  • a single property is reconstructed into self-contained flats
  • individual flats are converted to single property
  • residents start or stop working from home
  • changes were made to property the property by the previous owner
  • significant changes such as a new road are being made to the local area
  • the council tax band was changed for a property with similar features in the same area

While some of the changes listed above are directly related to renovations and repairs being made to premises and they also might be in control of the resident, some might be involuntary and external changes that do have an impact on council tax bills. 

Do You Have To Pay Council Tax When Renovating A Property?

If the property is uninhabitable due to the renovations that are being made to it and the nature of work includes structural changes or major home repairs, residents will be exempt from paying council tax for the tenure of the process. 

However, if you are unable to qualify for an exemption from council tax, certain home repairs may count you as eligible for a council tax reduction; while renovations that do not affect everyday living and the property remains occupied while work proceeds will not qualify for either an exemption or a discount.

You may be able to avail of a discount on your council tax bill if any of the following repair works are being done at your home:

  • repair of roof structures or foundations 
  • rebuilding of external walls or chimney stacks, 
  • replacement of floors 
  • removal of internal walls (not partitions)

Conclusion:

Through this article, we have to learn that there are varied costs involved in the removal of a restrictive covenant from one’s title deed. The most ideal situation is when a restrictive covenant is time-bound and loses its effectiveness over time or simply becomes obsolete as the conditions that it was enforced under no longer exist. 

However, should one have to undergo court proceedings to have a restrictive covenant removed, it may not be the end of having to deal with building laws and additional costs. Depending on the modifications to one’s property, one may have to consult Planning Permission or Building Regulations. Additionally, certain modifications to property may increase your council tax band which leads to higher council tax payments.

FAQs: How Much Does It Cost To Remove A Restrictive Covenant?

Can restrictive covenants be lifted?

Yes, restrictive covenants can be lifted. You may seek permission from the original seller of the property or the successor in title to have them removed. You may proceed with alternative dispute resolution or mediation if you would like an out of court settlement. However, when nothing else works, you can file an application with the Lands Tribunal for the removal of a restrictive covenant.

Can you overturn a restrictive covenant?

To overturn a restrictive covenant legally you have the option of proceeding with alternative dispute resolution or mediation if you would like an out of court settlement. However, when nothing else works, you can file an application with the Lands Tribunal for the removal of a restrictive covenant. Should you choose to overturn a restrictive covenant at your own discretion by not abiding by it, you may have to face a penalty and have to bear the cost of reversing the action.

How do I take restrictions off my property?

You will need a copy of the deed that details the restrictions or restrictive covenant. You will need this to file an application at the Land Tribunal for legal proceedings in support of your case. However, if the restriction was time-bound and has expired or is no longer valid due to a change in circumstances that makes it inapplicable, you will not have to do anything.

Who enforces a covenant on property?

Restrictive covenants are enforced by the original landowners of a property and are passed down in succession as the property is sold from one owner to the other.

Can you sell a property with a restriction?

Yes, you can sell a property with a restriction; only as long as you are able to meet the conditions that are stated in the deed. These are restrictive covenants that place certain restrictions on properties and may at times reduce their market value at the time of a sale.

References:

Updating and removing restrictive covenants on your land

What can you do about restrictive covenants?

How much does it cost to remove a restrictive covenant? | Ready Steady Sell

Restrictive covenants – what they mean – HomeOwners Alliance

T608 – explanatory leaflet for applications to discharge or modify restrictive covenants

Guidance overview: Permitted development rights for householders: technical guidance

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.