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  • Legal FAQs

    Restrictive covenants and HMO

    We are pursuing a 1963 built property, with the intention to convert from residential C3 to large (8 rooms) HMO Class Sui Generis. It is not a ex-council home.

    Our solicitor has raised a couple of restrictive covenants (not to use as a “business” and not create a nuisance) which I think are fairly typical of most houses when first sold (this was built in 1963). Normally any covenant breaches are covered by indemnity insurance but in this case there is no (known) breach but we have intention of changing use that, may, trigger a claim of breach of covenant in future i.e. we are deliberately going to take action (that may) lead to a breach. These are the principal ones affecting us:

    1.            No building or erection save for one private dwelling house with usual outbuildings shall be erected on the land and the land and the buildings for the time being erected thereon shall be used and occupied as a private dwellinghouse only and no trade or business or manufacture shall be carried out thereon.

    2.            Nothing shall be done or permitted on the land which may be or grow to be a nuisance or annoyance to the owners or occupiers of neighbouring or adjoining properties.

    On the surface they seem relatively innocuous but could they be used to block our Change of Use application?
    Apart from that point, can an “affected” neighbor use the covenants to prevent us from having an HMO, large or small? 
    Are these very common covenants that affect thousands HMOs up and down the land?

    The irony is that I have another HMO and it and probably most properties have some form of restrictive covenants that could restrict use as an HMO (small or large) and this must affect most HMO owners. Doesn´t anyone else have this same problem? I suspect that once a breach has ocurred, owners can subsequently apply for Indemnity insurance (certainly as part of a subsequent sale of the property) but in my case the breach hasn´t happened so no cover is available, according to the broker my solicitor uses.

    Has anyone had this experience and have any solution ?

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    I assume its freehold and it would be very difficult to call the HMO a business. Its a house rented out for people to live in. Nuisance clauses again can be very difficult to enforce. Any covenant that is not enforceable you can make application to the land registry to remove it. There are all sorts of covenants , I once had a flat that stated the usual no pets,( actually this can be enforced) business etc but also no beer kellers, no women of disrepute, and any couple not married could not buy or live together in the property. In the real world the last one would never stand up in court  in today's world. That was because the flats were built on land which was once a convent.

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    I would say it will be

    'one private dwelling house'

    i.e.:

    its one

    its private

    and its a house (a house in multiple occupation)

    it doesnt stipulate only one family or a single household can occupy.

    im not a solicitor!  but thats prob an advantage!


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