I’m about to purchase a plot of land (due to complete in the next couple of weeks). In the title documents there is a covenant put in by the people who sold the land to the guy I’m buying the garden plot from stating that any future building on the land must first be approved by the original owner. This document is dated in 1982 and the original owner is a company that has been dissolved. My question is, how do I gain permission from the original owner when they are no longer around? Can I just go ahead and build or is this too risky? Thanks!

  • Adam

    Hi Antony,

    This is really a point you should discuss at length with your solicitor. There could be ramifications in forging ahead without first carefully assessing the potential pitfalls.

    What you face is something of a legal grey area. Some types of covenant are clearly and carefully worded, enforceable across time. You will never get around them. Others are less definite, become less relevant as time passes and open to interpretation.

    Only a solicitor well versed in conveyancing and, ideally, the subject to which the covenant pertains will be able to give you solid advice on how to proceed.

    There is a good chance that the appropriate way forward won’t be crystal clear. When that happens you get insured against any nasty surprises! Again, talk about this possibility with your solicitor.

    It’s a weighty bit of prose but may help give you an outline understanding of the subject from a well respected insurance supplier: http://www.zurich.co.uk/legalindemnities/news/real_issues_for_real_estate/restrictivecovenantindemnityinsurance.htm

    Good luck with it!

  • Antony Mcclafferty

    Thank you for your informative reply Adam. The covenant basically says that 2 buildings are allowed on the land, one of which is the current owners house, so ours would be the second one, therefore a property is allowed to be built, but it’s the position/layout of the house that needs approval from the previous owners, who are in the process of being dissolved! Unfortunately, our solicitors never even brought these covenants to our attention, it was only when we were going through the legal pack and contracts that we found these out, so I’m not holding my breath that they’ll be much help in looking into this further! Thanks again, Antony.

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