You and the Law 29th June 2011

Breaking the rules

I have a holiday cottage.  My neighbours are putting up a conservatory and a summerhouse and are planning to let the property out this season.  This is despite restrictive covenants which state that no new buildings must be constructed without my permission and that the property must not be used for commercial purposes.  They say there’s nothing I can do about this, but are they correct, and what would it cost?  EK

If there are restrictive covenants in your favour your neighbours may have to apply to the Lands Tribunal to have them removed, and they would have to compensate you even if they were successful.  The law on such covenants is complicated so you should see a solicitor urgently, since if you need to obtain an injunction it would be preferable to apply for this before the work has started.  Your neighbours may have to pay towards your costs of any litigation if they have flouted covenants which you brought to their attention.

Certified owner

Some time ago I read that a Land Certificate was more valuable than the deeds to a property.  How can this be?  Where would you obtain a Land
Certificate, and is there a charge for this?  JN

You used to receive a Land Certificate once your property was registered at the Land Registry (although if you had a mortgage it would have been retained and the lender would have been given a charge certificate).   However, the Land Registry no longer issues Land Certificates.  On registration, all the details contained in your title deeds are placed on electronic central files, so the deeds in effect become redundant although they may be useful to refer to from time to time.  If your property isn’t registered now it will be next time it changes hands; there’s no need to do anything at this stage apart from look after your title deeds.  It is possible, and in some cases advisable, to register your property voluntarily.

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