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Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 71031
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I bought my house (freehold) about two years ago. It was built

Customer Question

I bought my house (freehold) about two years ago. It was built at the beginning of the 1960s as part of a small development or houses. Originally, the house had a garage, also freehold, which is located in a separate block around the corner from the house. When I bought the house, the seller did not own the garage as it had been retained by their seller and registered with a separate title at the Land Registry. According to the original Transfer deed for the house and garage, there was a covenant against using the garage other than for a private motor vehicle to be used in conjunction only with my house. I would like to buy back the garage and have written to the previous owners (who live about 2 miles away) on a couple of occasions to see if they would sell me the garage but they say that they still use it intermittently. They indicated they would contact me first when ready to sell. That was over a year ago and I have not heard from them since. Is there some way I can put pressure on them to sell e.g. by putting some notice/restriction on their title to the garage? Could I threaten legal action or could that only be done by people entitled to the benefit of the covenant? Under the Transfer, the covenant was made in favour of the developer which went into liquidation many years ago. Would the benefit therefore pass to the neighbouring properties built by the developer and which have similar covenants in respect of their garages. I would have thought it was in the previous owners' interest to sell to me because of the covenant on the garage which might put someone else off buying.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

On basis do you legally think that you can force them to sell a building?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I'm not sure I understand your question. Basically, I'm asking whether I can put some pressure on the owners of the garage to sell. Is it possible to put a notice/restriction on the Land Registry title to the garage? Could I take action for breach of covenant by them or is that not possible because it was a previous owner of the house who broke the covenant and I have impliedly consented to the breach by buying the house without the garage? Is there someone else who could threaten breach of covenant?



Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
I would be very careful threatening to sue them for breach of covenant unless they sell. They could possibly refer the matter to the police as blackmail even if they are in breach.

Unless you have the benefit of the covenant which seems unlikely as it is likely to be for the benefit for some reason of the surrounding land, then you cannot enforce it. It would be necessary to look at the deeds of the land at the time the house and garage was built and the current deeds to see you as the benefit of that covenant.

In all honesty, the only way that you can bring pressure to bear on them to sell is to make them an offer that they cannot refuse. They are free to charge you literally, what they like.

I’m sorry that this is bad news for you

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks very much for your reply. Not good news but what I was expecting. I just wondered what you thought about possibility of putting a notice/ restriction on the title at the Land Registry so they can't sell the garage without notice to me.



Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
What would you like to know about that?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Just whether it would be possible to do either successfully. If so, could owners of garage object and on what basis bearing in mind that it is they who have breached the covenant.

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
You can only place restriction against the property if you have an interest in the property and that doesn't look literally mean "interested in it" it means that you have some kind of vested interest.

Of course you can always apply to put a restriction against it and it will be up to the land registry to decide whether you have enough interest to allow the restriction.

The owners of the garage can of course apply to court to get the restriction removed but you would get notice of that