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ColonelMoutarde

Storing caravan on a driveway

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Hi all, I'm sure this question has been asked a million times before but everyone's circumstances are slightly different so here goes...

My father passed away recently and left me his home. The in-laws subsequently have moved in there to be closer to the grandkids. The wife and I have also bought our first ever caravan. We cannot store it at our house as the drive is sloped and not enough room, however at our other house where the in-laws live, the drive is plentiful and it is a corner house in a cul-de-sac, perfect we thought. However, after parking the caravan there (and it is to the corner of the house/drive so not exactly sticking out front and centre), on of the nearby residents (not a neighbour, he lives diagonally opposite) is complaining about the caravan. So far, he has accosted both my wife and my mother in law moaning about it and saying it breaches the covenant.

Hi complain is a little bit of a nonsense; moaning that he can no longer see the road that runs alongside; we aren't talking a view of the Cotswolds here! The irony is that before the caravan was there, there was a hedge so he has never been able to see the road! If I am feeling generous, there is a covenant on the deeds, even if it does seem worded slightly woolly, so he is probably correct however a) the estate/group of houses was built in the 70's and b) if you go on Google Maps or even walk around the area, there are plenty of other caravans/motorhomes on drives so lots of people breaching covenant.

So the question is, assuming he takes it to court (I doubt the developer is even still in business, let alone willing to enforce the covenant), is he allowed to single us out or would enforcing the covenant have to apply to every one on the estate? Also, I have seen many posts from people claiming that ARTICLE 1 OF THE FIRST PROTOCOL: PROTECTION OF PROPERTY of the Human Rights Act would overwrite any such covenant preventing putting a caravan on a drive; i.e. that preventing me from my right to enjoy my property and possession could not be overruled by someone disingenuously claiming a view of a road is spoiled.

Does anyone have any insight or experience they can offer? I'm not that fussed; at the end of the day, the guy is a divorced, retired police officer with nothing better to do than harass and intimidate others - pretty sad behaviour if you ask me, but it is what it is. I will leave it until such time as solicitor's letters arrive and then move it - no skin off my nose, I just wondered what recent law and cases had to say about it.

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The first thing to understand is that just because your property has a covenant it doesn't necessarily follow that all properties on the estate have the same. The European Convention on Human Rights has nothing to do with it as only a public authority can interfere with your rights under the Convention. The covenant was probably  imposed by a previous (private) land owner. However, even if the local planning authority had imposed the covenant it is within the law and not a breach of rights.

 

Having said all that, the law around covenants can be very complex and you are best advised to seek advice from your solicitor. My post would go on forever if I tried to explain it all on here but, in a nutshell, you need to ascertain if the covenant is still enforceable.  There is a legal principle called “privity of contract”, which means the covenant will always be enforceable as between the original covenantor and covenantee, even after either or both have parted with the land in question. This simply means that a contract is private and binding only on the contracting parties i.e. the original imposer of the covenant and first purchaser of the property and  means that covenants are not always binding on or do not always benefit future owners.

 

There is a lot more information at this link. There are plenty of other resources to look up online but you really need to speak with a solicitor for confirmation of your legal position. If the covenant is enforceable it could cost you a lot of money in legal fees and compensation or you could end up with an injunction. Alternatively, if it is enforceable, you can apply to have it removed or modified (explained at the end of the article in the link). I hope it all helps and you reach a satisfactory conclusion.

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Hi ColonelMoutarde, I have no legal training so I won't even comment on your legal standing in this case. I have a little training in newly built estates where covenants are placed on properties. These are USUALLY in force while the estate is under construction. After the estate is completed, it is adopted by the local council and it becomes THEIR responsibility. Many don't bother with enforcing the covenant. It might be worth a phone call to the local council to see if they do enforce such a covenant, or if it lapsed when the estate was finished. We have a regular poster on here called "Legal Eagle", I'm sure they will be along soon to offer their advice and what steps you can take to protect yourself.

4 minutes ago, Legal Eagle said:

The first thing to understand is that just because your property has a covenant it doesn't necessarily follow that all properties on the estate have the same. The European Convention on Human Rights has nothing to do with it as only a public authority can interfere with your rights under the Convention. The covenant was probably  imposed by a previous (private) land owner. However, even if the local planning authority had imposed the covenant it is within the law and not a breach of rights.

 

Having said all that, the law around covenants can be very complex and you are best advised to seek advice from your solicitor. My post would go on forever if I tried to explain it all on here but, in a nutshell, you need to ascertain if the covenant is still enforceable.  There is a legal principle called “privity of contract”, which means the covenant will always be enforceable as between the original covenantor and covenantee, even after either or both have parted with the land in question. This simply means that a contract is private and binding only on the contracting parties i.e. the original imposer of the covenant and first purchaser of the property and  means that covenants are not always binding on or do not always benefit future owners.

 

There is a lot more information at this link. There are plenty of other resources to look up online but you really need to speak with a solicitor for confirmation of your legal position. If the covenant is enforceable it could cost you a lot of money in legal fees and compensation or you could end up with an injunction. Alternatively, if it is enforceable, you can apply to have it removed or modified (explained at the end of the article in the link). I hope it all helps and you reach a satisfactory conclusion.

We posted at the same time! I guessed that you would be along to offer your excellent advice!

 

Regards, Mike.

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On the small estate where we live the covenants were taken over by the local council, and they actively enforce the no caravans or boats for more then 28 days a year rule!

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I guess there is no harm in waiting to see if a letter from a solicitors arrives at which time you could then take the appropriate action?

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Thanks for the advice, I have previously looked though that link but if I am being honest, I find it so rammed full of legalese and jargon, I have difficulty deciphering what bits do/do not apply to me. I have no idea if the covenants were taken over by the council but what I can say is that my wife drove around the area this morning and counted at least ~30 caravans and motorhomes on drives and there will have been caravans and motorhomes on drives for the best part of the last 30 years I expect. Now obviously, not all the houses will be subject to the same covenants but I would have thought a lot of them would be since the estate of houses was built at the same time.

 

Anyway, as said, I'm not likely to contest or dispute it, I just don't like the fact that one particular person can effectively abuse a rule this way in order to harass and bully. I have no idea why this guy has such a bee in his bonnet about it and as far as I am aware, he hasn't complained about anyone else's caravan nor about the guy who parks his works van on the drive, also against the covenant.

 

Presumably though, if he does go to a solicitor in order to start breach of covenant against us, he also has to start action against everyone else breaching it too, right? Would a solicitor be happy to send a letter threatening legal action in order to scare us into backing down even if they thought the covenant was unenforceable? Or would a reputable solicitor tell the bloke straight away that he is unlikely to succeed?

6 minutes ago, Durbanite said:

I guess there is no harm in waiting to see if a letter from a solicitors arrives at which time you could then take the appropriate action?

Oh most definitely - that is exactly what we are doing. He can waste his time and money pursuing it with a solicitor and then I will simply shift it.

Edited by ColonelMoutarde

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If the local authority have taken the covenant over then he won't need to go to the expense of a solicitor's letter. He would just complain for them to take enforcement action.

 

If you have an email address, or for the price of a stamp, write to the local planning officer (you want the response in writing) to see if they do now hold the covenant and if it is still enforceable.

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6 minutes ago, Legal Eagle said:

If the local authority have taken the covenant over then he won't need to go to the expense of a solicitor's letter. He would just complain for them to take enforcement action.

 

If you have an email address, or for the price of a stamp, write to the local planning officer (you want the response in writing) to see if they do now hold the covenant and if it is still enforceable.

 

Yes, I have emailed the council to see if they have adopted the covenant.

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We had a similar situation after we bought a large corner plot detached property in 1973.  It was the ex show house and the builders had completed the estate 18 months previously.  We had a caravan and were aware that the property had a covenant on it banning caravans, but still went ahead and stored it off road alongside a detached garage, as we had spotted another caravan being stored around the corner. No objections or problems until the house opposite was sold 10 years later and the new owner verbally objected and said there was a covenant regarding caravan storage.  After some research I found that the original builder had been bought out by Persimmon Homes.  After contacting their legal department (who said they were not really interested in enforcing covenants after they had sold all the plots) and after parting with about £75 admin fee, they send me a letter confirming that they had lifted the covenant. Fortunately I was friends with a solicitor who did the paperwork to add a alteration to the property deeds with the Land Registry. Job done, but I took the kindly step of not rubbing the neighbours nose in it and didn't inform him, but he never complained again.  I can only assume that he'd got a copy of my updated deeds which had the covenant removed. Good luck.

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My property was built-in 1972 and still has a enforced covenant which is managed by a management company .

 

Lucky mine has no mention of caravans .

 

Dave

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Quote

 

I raised this matter before and received some good advice from Legal Eagle.

 

We  have lived on a new development for the near 3 years, there is a covenant in the deed in regards parking of caravans, vans etc,  on the drive for the first 5 years, however, you can write and ask permission. We wrote to the developer to grant permission, they would not grant permission, but would not enforce it.

 

We parked the caravan on the drive for about 5 week expecting a certain neighbour to object, nothing, recently we have left the caravan on the drive for the past 10 weeks, still nothing although we still have paid our storage up until the end of the year. Fortunately the neighbour have now sold there house.

 

We have a strange covenant in our deed no satellite dishes or roof ariels.

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things do change over the years with properties and it may be worth your while to seek a solicitor to clarify things.  With my house, built in the 1960's, they were all leasehold with loads of rules including what colour they could paint their house.   when we bought our house , it was our solicitor who had been instrumental in writing up all the freeholds for the houses and the only rule that applies now  is that no business can be carried out on the properties.  Our neighbours were quite shocked when we painted the house a different colour .

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1 hour ago, ColonelMoutarde said:

Or would a reputable solicitor tell the bloke straight away that he is unlikely to succeed?

 

As a software publisher we often received solicitor's letters threatening to sue us for a (normally non-existent) problem with the programs we sold.

My solicitor, a good friend, told me that most solicitors would write whatever someone paid them to write.

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4 hours ago, Oscarmax said:

 

We have a strange covenant in our deed no satellite dishes or roof ariels.

 

 

Do you have one or both on your caravan?? 😀

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Our house we moved into last year has a covenant on it and states no sheds as well as no caravans amongst other items. Dates from 1965.

 

The original covenant was made between land owners and the developers and appears to have been attempting to preserve aspects of the development adjacent to the land they retained.

 

The solicitors view was that he didn't believe anyone would still be around to enforce such a covenant and that the "beneficiaries" of the covenant so to speak were the landowners and not the current house owners.

 

He could not guarantee though that someone might possibly be able to bring a case but felt it extremely unlikely.

 

You could post a copy of the covenant on here and see if anyone has any further thoughts or maybe ask a solicitor to review although I doubt you'll get a definitive reply.

 

You could also try and reason with him, maybe offer up a new hedge and point out that he's not going to be very popular if all the caravans have to be removed...

 

 

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Unfortunately some individuals like nothing better than to interfere and bully, either through jealousy or leading a rather dull and boring lifestyle. It sounds like your neighbour ticks all those boxes. I personally would ignore him and let him spend money on whatever action he thinks he can take. 

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24 minutes ago, GaryB1969 said:

Unfortunately some individuals like nothing better than to interfere and bully, either through jealousy or leading a rather dull and boring lifestyle. It sounds like your neighbour ticks all those boxes. I personally would ignore him and let him spend money on whatever action he thinks he can take. 

Agreed. 

Many will moan and bluster but few would go as far as taking legal action - unless the whole thing blows up into a nose to nose row.

It's probably in your interest to smile and be polite, even if he isn't.

 

How about the other neighbours? 

Are they OK with the van, or just keeping quiet to avoid causing an upset?

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No problem with the other neighbours - the house only has neighbours on one side and they are fine; we get on great with them.

 

Just to clarify; if this guy takes action against us legally, does this mean he must also enforce action against everyone else breaking the covenant on the estate as well? I am thinking that could prove costly if he has to pay for and send potentially 20 or so solicitor's letters. I am assuming he can't use the excuse of enforcing a covenant to single out or persecute an individual - if he wants one house to remove a caravan, it must apply to all (bound by the covenant) surely?

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I can see no reason why he would not be able to single you out. 

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12 hours ago, GaryB1969 said:

Unfortunately some individuals like nothing better than to interfere and bully, either through jealousy or leading a rather dull and boring lifestyle. It sounds like your neighbour ticks all those boxes. I personally would ignore him and let him spend money on whatever action he thinks he can take. 

There are two sides to every story, and here we only have one side! 

 

BH

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The covenant needs to be checked before you can be sure of where you stand. If it was purely in favour of the developer and was not taken over by the council then it is unenforceable.  If the council has taken this over then it depends on their attitude although even if they try to enforce it they can only succeed if enforcement is reasonable.

I appreciate the Human Rights argument but you would still have to prove enforcing the covenant was unreasonable. Personally I would point out that the covenant is enforceable only by the developer who assuming he exists is not going to be interested. 

If the council pursue it then try the argument of no prejudice and Human Rights but if they are serious then the costs could be a problem although a decent solicitor can put you right on that.

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You have to remember that when you buy your property you are suppose to read the deeds and sign a agreement to accept them if it has any covenant .

 

 

 

Dave

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33 minutes ago, CommanderDave said:

You have to remember that when you buy your property you are suppose to read the deeds and sign a agreement to accept them if it has any covenant .

 

 

 

Dave

I didn't buy the property. It's a second house left to me by my father. I would rather keep the caravan at our own home since we have no such covenants however half the drive is walled/gardened and the other half is at too steep an angle.

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A clause in a deed can only be persude by the builders or those issuing the covenant, not any old soul.

Tell the moaner to grow up!

 

I live on a modern estate, when we moved in the house was 8 years old. We too have the same covenant, its only there so as not to put off would be buyers whilst the estate was developed and sold. Once all the plots have gone the builders ( the enforcement agent) couldnt care less what you park on your drive.

 

My drive isnt long enough for a caravan, but plenty of my neighbours store them and motorhomes.

 

I suggest you park the caravan, and see what happens, my guess absolutely nothing! 

Edited by Wellys and Mac

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I was advised by the local Council Building Inspector that a covenant placed in deeds by a builder (as opposed to one by the Local Council), could be enforced either by the Builder, which would be unlikely once an estate was completed and fully sold, or by a neighbour.

The potential cost of bringing a legal action would probably put most neighbours off doing so.

 

38 minutes ago, ColonelMoutarde said:

I didn't buy the property. It's a second house left to me by my father. I would rather keep the caravan at our own home since we have no such covenants however half the drive is walled/gardened and the other half is at too steep an angle.

 

Would it not be possible for you to move into the inherited house and the in-laws to your house.

Edited by hp100425ev

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