We have recently purchased a house in Preston and would like to get a couple chickens as our garden is very large and we have objections from the neighbours.
My concern is that in our deeds it says we are not allowed to keep poultry. I am guessing the reason for this is because that in 1959 when they were people who kept cockerels so I can see why it was included. We have written to the original company who wrote the deeds but have later established that it was liquidated in 1986 so liquidated in 1986 so they cannot help us. Where do we go from here?
You are in a very complicated area of the law here. It gets ever more complicated as land becomes scarcer and the development of it becomes lucrative, so I can only give you a very basic outline.
Firstly, because the company has gone into liquidation it no longer exists in law. That means the company can longer enforce the covenant against you. However, you would need to check that it hasn’t been taken over or amalgamated with another company as they would acquire the benefit of that covenant and could therefore enforce it.
If the company put the same covenant on neighbouring plots, then your neighbours now have the right to enforce it against you. This is because the law says that your neighbours are effectively the company’s “successors in title”, because they occupy land that the company intended to benefit from the covenant. If you neighbours choose not to object then that’s fine, but it’s only after 20 years usage that they lose their right to enforce it for good.
If you were trying to do something more contentious such as applying for planning permission to build another house and there was a covenant preventing this, then you could apply to have the covenant removed. You should note there is only limited ground available, for example that is no longer required to protect the neighbourhood. Usually you apply to the Land Tribunal to do this but be prepared to dig very deep into your pocket as the expense would be enough to buy you a vast number chickens.
If your plans go well, and the chickens thrive, I would suggest you avoid getting that cockerel as they have habit of crowing very loudly at first light every day of the year! You may then find the neighbours less accommodating- and instead, looking towards enforcing that covenant.
It is important when you are purchasing your house that your Conveyancing Solicitor highlights any covenants that are contained the property deeds. The deeds contain very important information that could affect your enjoyment and practicality of the property such as keeping poultry or pigeons at the property or even parking a mobile home on the property. So it is very imperative that if there is anything that you don’t understand you query this with you and get clarification before proceeding.
Similarly, your conveyancer should ensure when purchasing the property that the covenants have not already been breached by the current vendor. It could be a simple breach; such as not to have a television fixed on the outside of the property or not to erect a shed in the back garden. Which may seem a very silly covenant but ones like this do exist!
If this covenant has clearly already been breached, this breach will be passed onto the new buyer and enforcement action could be taken which you would then be liable for.
Once you are satisfied you have received enough advice and clarification on the contents of the deeds you can then be confident to proceed with your purchase. Your conveyancing solicitor will guide you through the whole process.
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