Covenants on land
A covenant is a legal interest in land because it is a "promise" contained in the title deeds.
The types of covenants that exist
There are 2 types of covenant that can burden land: positive or restrictive (or negative).
- A positive covenant requires something to be done, normally incurring expenditure
Example: A positive covenant could be "to fence off an area of land";
- A negative covenant normally requires something not to be done
Example: A negative covenant could be "not to use the land for any other purpose than a garden".
Why the Council imposes covenants
Covenants may be imposed to promote a certain form of development or land use or to prevent uses, which may be considered detrimental to the locality, especially relating to neighbouring Council owned property. Covenants may also be used to financially protect the Council when disposing of land for lower value uses.
Is the covenant enforceable by the Council?
This is complex and you are advised to seek your own professional legal advice.
How can the covenants be released or altered?
There are 2 main options available:
- If the Council has the benefit of the covenant, you may approach the Council to discuss terms for a release or alteration, which will usually involve a payment.
- The Lands Tribunal (L.T.) has powers to amend or discharge covenants in certain circumstances. Further information may be obtained directly from the L.T. on (020) 7612 9710, email email@example.com, or from their website Lands Tribunal|.
Approaching the Council to discuss terms
Please write to the Council's Estates Manager and provide as much information as you can about the covenant and what you are proposing to do. The address to write to is:
- Estates Manager
- 01422 392564
- Corporate Asset and Facilities Management
Economy and Environment
Halifax HX1 1PS
The process involved
The case will be allocated to one of the Council's valuation surveyors and you will be contacted within 10 days. The legal position will be verified with the Council's Legal Services. The Council will give consideration as to whether the covenant should be amended or otherwise.
The Council has a legal duty to receive the best consideration reasonably obtainable for any property transaction. The Council's valuation surveyor will discuss your proposal with you to enable a suitable payment to be assessed of the consideration required by the Council to release or amend the covenant.
The Council will be seeking consideration based upon the increase in value of the land due to the release or alteration of the covenant.
You will also be responsible for the Council's legal and surveyors fees as well as your own.
What happens when terms are agreed?
A formal report is prepared to seek final approval and if recommended instructions will be submitted to the Council's Legal Services. Your solicitor will then be contacted to conclude matters.
What if I cannot agree terms?
The level of consideration may be determined independently by the District Valuer (Inland Revenue) although you will be responsible for these fees, payable in advance.
Other options available
You may be able to take out an insurance or indemnity policy but again you should seek professional legal advice.
Important: Covenants are complex and can be very individual in nature. This information is not intended to provide any specific or detailed legal or property advice and should not be relied upon. This note is intended to provide general information regarding how the Council deals with covenants.
If you think your land may be affected by a covenant, you are strongly advised to seek your own professional legal and property advice.