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Title Deeds - Restrictive Covenants


Steve Justice
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We're currently in dispute with our neighbours since we moved in to our new house over what we can and cannot do to our front garden. This specifically relates to what colour we can have our front door, what we can do to the lawn and the height of any boundry walls or plants.

I've taken a look through our Deeds at the restrictive covenants, and there is some mention of height restrictions but it contradicts itself on two seperate pages. No mention of the front door colour though, so I'm calling shennaigans on that one.

Is there a free online service that can advise on such things, and whether they are enforceable or not? Quite happy to pay any legal fees if it comes to it, but I'm only after advice at this stage.

Anyone had any dealings themselves with a similar issue?

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I can understand the height of boundary walls and things like that, but I've never heard of restrictions on what colour you want to paint your front fucking door! Where did you hear that if it's not in the deeds, from the neighbours? They are absolutely, 100% having you on with that.

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6 minutes ago, Wretch said:

I can understand the height of boundary walls and things like that, but I've never heard of restrictions on what colour you want to paint your front fucking door! Where did you hear that if it's not in the deeds, from the neighbours? They are absolutely, 100% having you on with that.

Yep, that's what they told us when we moved in. They've lived here since they were built in the 70's, and from the sounds of it they're quite controlling. We share the rear drive, and to their dismay I've ignored all the requests they clearly imposed on the previous occupiers (who also lived here since they were built) because it's more convenient for them. They've done nothing but complain since we moved in. We're now coming to the point of sorting out the front of the house, so we want to make sure what we can and can't do before we start.

They're very pompus, ignorant and obnoxious. I despise them.

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29 minutes ago, Wretch said:

but I've never heard of restrictions on what colour you want to paint your front fucking door!

It can exist but only when the building, site or wider area is deemed, individually or collectively, to be part of something of historical or social relevance. It certainly wouldn't apply here and even if it did it would be loose and call for it to maintain the required aesthetic concept. 

If its not in the deeds or part of general law it should be fine as this extreme example shows. 

Edited by Tommy!
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If the houses were only built in the seventies it's highly unlikely you live in a designated 'Conservation Area', but if you were to then there can be restrictions on what you can and can't do to the appearance of the property. Lots of advice on conservation areas readily available online.

Sounds far more likely the case that your neighbours are just uptight dickheads from what you've said. 

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2 minutes ago, Arch Stanton said:

If the houses were only built in the seventies it's highly unlikely you live in a designated 'Conservation Area', but if you were to then there can be restrictions on what you can and can't do to the appearance of the property. Lots of advice on conservation areas readily available online.

Sounds far more likely the case that your neighbours are just uptight dickheads from what you've said. 

Yes. Yes they are.

My concern is more the contradiction of what we can/can't do to the front garden. I'll take some pics so you can see what I mean. Maybe it will be clearer to someone else.

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14 minutes ago, Steve Justice said:

My concern is more the contradiction of what we can/can't do to the front garden

In principle you can do what you like as long as any walls, fences or bushes comply with the written rulings in the deeds. 

The only exception I'm aware of is turning into a driveway, where unless you just slab two tire paths to drive on and leave the rest as is you need meet certain drainage rules now. The other if it's deemed offensive like shaping a tree into a penis cutting the word cunt I your lawn. 

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This one is under the 'Land Registration Acts 1925 and 1936', and is dated 1970. It advises the height restriction of 12 inches. And if I'm reading it correctly,  it must be maintained as a lawn.

Ji0t9n3.jpg

 

This one is under the restrictive covenants section and is dated 1971. If I'm reading this right, a boundry wall cannot exceed 4 feet 6 inches, or the height of a bay window or porch. Our bay window is approx. 2 feet up from the ground. Ideally we would like a slightly hight boundry wall, but a 2 foot one is fine. If it's limited to 1 foot as indicated in the first document, then there's no point.

8RRQNOs.jpg

 

We also want to get rid of the lawn and cover it in decorative slate with potted plants etc. But that first document implies we can't do that.

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@Steve Justice Can I suggest a trip to the Citizen's Advice Bureau?  They might be able to point you in the direction of local planning information, or help you decipher the deeds.

FWIW, if everyone else on your street has kept their front lawns as lawns then it might well be something that you need to adhere to.  If some of the houses have broken that covenant in their deeds, with no pushback from the council, then I reckon you're ok.

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It's been a few years since I had to read deeds and it's drawn off a quick glance, so don't hold me to it, but you should keep it as lawn (you can't turn it into a driveway or slab it), you can put a boundary wall around up to 4 6" but no other building or plant life should exceed 12".

It's not to say you can't do what you want, and if the neighbours were cool most people would just ignore it, but you will likely need to apply for permission and the council give local residents a right to object. If no objection is given or upheld you can do what you applied for. 

So if you want a shed or porch on the front, or a decorative tree or big bushes (snigger) you should agree it first. 

Again it's only at a quick glance. 

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3 hours ago, Steve Justice said:

And if I'm reading it correctly,  it must be maintained as a lawn.

Yep it reads that way. I work in the leasehold industry and whilst it's a whole different animal, there are some similarities between leases and deeds. If your deeds make no mention of the door colour bollocks then you're fine. That might just be an informal agreement between the residents at some point. Is there some sort of resident's association?

3 hours ago, Loki said:

Can I suggest a trip to the Citizen's Advice Bureau?

Would advise against this unfortunately. From my experience they've given bad advice in this sort of field many, many times because property ownership in this country is so archaic and often defies common sense. Not against CAB in general at all, but in this field they're not great. Legal advice would definitely be my suggestion if you want clarification about the lawn. You might find case law will help you in this respect, as it's odd to insist on keeping a lawn given how common patios are these days.

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