Have you ever checked your title deeds for a restrictive covenant ? Basically a provision of sale of the land originally that restricts the then purchaser and usually his / her successors from using or doing something on the land.
We don’t make a habit of it but when we prepare and serve party wall notices we always check owner’s details at the Land Registry. To do this we look at a copy of the title deed so get to see quite a few of these covenant’s which are usually on older titles and whilst quite sensible sometimes when you read them they are quaint, funny and clearly way, way out of date –
Take this Victorian one for a house in Clapham for instance –
“…. their heirs and assigns will not open any offensive drain into the road or roads adjoining the said hereditaments and premises hereby granted or lay any earth or rubbish thereon or otherwise injure disfigure or incumber the said road or roads and will not suffer the said hereditaments and premises or any house or other building which may be erected thereon to be used for an Inn Alehouse or Victualling House or for the sale of beer or porter by retail or as a Boys School or Blacksmiths Carpenters or Wheelwrights shop or slaughterhouse or for making of tallow soap boiling bone boiling fish or tripe dressing or for gas works or for the manufacture repairing erection or use of any steam engine or for any other noisy noisome or offensive trade manufacture business occupation or purpose which may be or grow into a nuisance or annoyance to the neighbourhood.”
So that’s it then – this house is no good for you if you wanted to not only live in it but open a boys school, make soap, slaughter livestock, open a pub, boil fish bones, repair steam engines, carry on carpentry etc etc. I suppose a girls school might be OK, and whoever made gas in a two storey terraced house?
It’s not something that we would cover on a house survey or homebuyer report but its always worth checking before you buy – some of these covenants for instance place restrictions on extending a house and these can still be enforced now.