A restrictive covenant is an agreement in a deed which restricts the use of the land. It stays with the property no matter how many times it changes hands.
If you own a home in Harlow, we may have some control over how you change your home’s appearance or use through restrictive covenants.
If your property has restrictive covenants, you will need to apply for permission to make changes to your property.
Covenant permission is separate to planning permission and building control approval.
Types of alterations
Restrictive covenants can affect things like:
- external alterations and extensions
- converting your property to a house in multiple occupation
- front garden alterations
- garden fencing alterations
- business use
You will not need covenant permission for:
- roof mounted solar panels (unless your property is in a conservation area)
- garden sheds (less than 15 square meters in size)
- replacement windows and doors (as long as they are like for like replacements)
- aerials and satellite dishes (unless your property is in a conservation area)
Find out if your home is affected
To find out if your home has restrictive covenants, look at your property deeds or ask your solicitor.
Most homes in Harlow are affected by covenants, including:
- homes built by Harlow Development Corporation, its agents or developers, and sold as private estates
- homes built by the Harlow Development Corporation for rent and later sold to tenants
- homes transferred to Harlow Council by the corporation as rented accommodation, and later sold under the ‘Right to Buy’
- homes built for sale by Harlow Council
If you live in Church Langley the only covenants that are applicable are those laid down by the original developers.
In the case of homes built by Croudace, the covenants on these properties were passed to Harlow District Council, but we have decided not to administer restrictive covenants in Church Langley.
For homes other than those built by Croudace you should contact the developer or ask your solicitor to advise you.
Houses in multiple occupation
There may be restrictive covenants on properties in Harlow built by Harlow Development Corporation or by Harlow Council, which mean that the property can only be used as a single-family dwelling. This means it cannot be converted to a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
Our policy is to not release the covenants that are enforceable by Harlow Council. We may consider a variation for temporary use as an HMO, but only in exceptional circumstances.
If you want to convert a property to an HMO, or are planning to buy an HMO, contact our Covenant Control team to find out whether the restrictive covenants affect the property.
Apply for covenant permission
You need to get permission from us before carrying out any changes that are affected by the covenant.
You still need to get permission even if you do not need planning or building control permission.
To apply for permission, you need to:
- send a completed covenant control permission application form (pdf) or HMO covenant control permission application form (pdf) to our Covenant Control team (contact details below)
- pay the correct fee
If you’re applying for covenant permission for a new dwelling you need to complete the covenant control permission for additional dwelling application form (pdf)
All our fees are non-refundable, even if your application is unsuccessful.
- window replacement, minor alterations, sheds and trees: £ 61.20
- extensions (including front porch): £125.46
- window replacement, minor alterations, sheds and trees: £ 93.84
- extensions (including front porch): £188.70
Proposed new dwelling: £153
House in multiple occupation: £153 (please read the section above which explains our policy)
You need to call 01279 446655 to pay the fee by debit or credit Card.
Once payment has been accepted, please email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting the payment reference number.