New home buyers are being warned to carefully check the small print of their contracts, after a prospective buyer found that he would be banned from parking his commercial van on his own driveway.
Engineer, Oliver Smith, was all set to hand over a £100,000 deposit on a £300,000 new build home in Colchester Essex, when he discovered the ban in the small print.
The housing developers had included a ‘restrictive covenant’ which not only banned Mr Smith from keeping a commercial vehicle on his own driveway but from parking it anywhere on the 278-plot housing estate.
In addition to commercial vehicles, the ban also included restrictions on keeping caravans, mobile homes, camper vans and boats on any driveway, or on the estate road, within the new Oakwood Meadows development.
Mr Smith has branded the ban as snobbery. He told The Sun newspaper: “As a tradesman I’m good enough to build the house but not good enough to buy it or live in it. It’s a complete joke.
“It’s upsetting and it feels like they are being very snobbish about hard-working tradespeople. “This was my dream house. Me and my wife were desperate to buy it so we can start a family.
“But banning my van means it’s not possible for me to buy — even though it would be my property. This van is my office, it comes home with me every night.”
Nicola Tubbs, an Associate Executive with Palmers said: “Restrictive covenants are becoming increasingly commonplace, particularly when it comes to new builds.
“Developers are within their rights to specify restrictions which they believe may have a detrimental effect on other potential buyers. This not only includes certain vehicles, caravans or boats but can also extend to alterations to the property, or even changing plants and the look of the garden, where the aim is to keep all properties looking similar.
“For example, some restrictive covenants may include a clause prohibiting a garage from being converted into an additional room in the house within a set number of years of the property being built. Other restrictions can include a ban on running a commercial business from the property (which could also be in breach of planning permission conditions and regulations) or keeping livestock, so if you have always dreamed of owning a few chickens you would be wise to check the small print of your contract first!
“It must be remembered that covenants – either positive or restrictive – continue to run with the land and do not usually expire with the passage of time unless specifically stated and a time limit is given.
“A good conveyancing solicitor will always go through the fine details of any contract with you to make sure, before any money changes hands, that there are no restrictions which might affect your lifestyle or enjoyment of the property.”
For more information on Palmers’ legal services for property buyers including conveyancing services, please contact us.