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Dormant or Dead Land Covenants

Comment 27th August 2010

Civil Liberty Restriction: There are 10's of thousands of restrictive covenants in property or land deeds, many of which date back 50-100 years and the person who put on the original restrictions is long since dead. This makes it all but impossible to seek an easement and it is a hugely expensive if not impossilbe task to have these dormant or dead covenants removed.  This has led to large numbers of people having to take out insurance policies just in case some heir appears and decides to enforce the covenant (or blackmail the property owner that they might).

The proposal is that all restrictive property or land covenants should have to be re-registered with the Land Registry every 20 years or automatically lapse. The Land Registry would charge a modest fee for this to cover the cost. 

Why does this matter?

Anyone who has tried to have a dormant restrictive covenant removed from their property deeds is advised by their solicitor that it is hugely expensive needing a barrister costing £500 an hour. They are guided instead towards taking out an insurance policy. These cost around £250 for £250,000 worth of cover that anyone enforces the covenant. The numbers indicate just how unlikely this is. So these dormant or dead restrictive covenants are of absolutely no use to any party but restrict civil liberties and leave the insurance industry effectively taking money off the consumer simply because the law dealing with extinguishing dormant or dead covenants so complex that it is priced out of reach of ordinary people.

The measure is important for the proposed government's freedom bill as the matter will never justify a parliamentary bill in its own right, it affects lots of property owners, the remedy is simple and if no action is taken now our grandchildren will still be encumbered with these useless restrictions on our civil liberties as property owners.

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