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HappyFeet

Restrictive Covenants...new builds & chooks

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Hi everyone, I fear I already know the answers...but praying I’m wrong!

Last year we moved into our lovely new (build) home, with a significantly bigger garden than our precious town-centre Victorian terrace.

2019 is all set to be the year we finally (after 8 years of discussion, planning & excitement!) get out bantams.

I’ve spoken to the neighbours who are (at least in theory) on board - one said they might change their mind once they arrive but they don’t think the noise will be a problem 😳 and last week I was getting all the ideas/tips for the perfect set up.

But when I was scrolling through forum topics I discovered a potentially huge stumbling block - restrictive covenants! This wasn’t a problem in our previous home as there weren’t any, but having read a few threads on here I’ve just now checked out deeds and there is a restrictive covenant forbidding keeping any animals other than ‘normal domestic household pets.’ 😭😭

Is this the end of the road for my chook dreams?

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There are two significant points here that mean you shouldn't have any problems. Firstly chickens are 'normal pets', as most people here will tell you. In the absence of that being further defined in the covenant of course. Breeding them to sell, or selling eggs would be another matter. Secondly every covenant has a beneficiary; someone that the covenant protects. It is usually the developer of the plot, because they would not want any practices taking place that would discourage buyers of the remaining houses. When there are no remaining houses on the development the covenant is no longer of practical value.

The only issue you really have are the environmental protection laws, so you need to keep the noise down (particularly in Summer) and keep the place clean so no pests or smells. Good idea to get the agreement of the neighbours. Free eggs should keep them happy as well.

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Thank you Beantree for your reply; so there may still be hope?

There is nothing further stated/clarified in the covenant (nothing pertaining to ‘livestock’ or chickens specifically, so if I can make the case that chickens are pets - we’re after 3 bantams so hardly a whole flock! - we might be ok.

In terms of the developers, I think they will still be building here for a couple of years. Based on what you’re suggesting it might be wise for us to wait until the builders have finished & left then. Does the covenant expire then? I saw no mention of that in the deeds but I was mainly skimming through for chicken info!

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I think leaving chickens until all the houses are finished and sold is a sensible approach HappyFeet. You don't want the potentially awkward position of having to defend a claim of breach of covenant; something your home legal insurance probably won't accept as they could argue you wouldn't have a 'reasonable' chance for success. Possibly there has already been a previous legally argued definition of 'normal domestic household pets' and it may not include chickens as they don't live in the house; I don't know? Answering that question will involve a lot of legal research expense.

Covenants don't 'expire' as such, they just become pointless in this case. It won't be there for the benefit of the neighbours, just the building Company that sold you the house.

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If the developers are still on site and building could you ask them for clarification on the covenant? You need not specifically mention chickens/bantams straight away but ask EXACTLY what it means.

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22 hours ago, soapdragon said:

If the developers are still on site and building could you ask them for clarification on the covenant? You need not specifically mention chickens/bantams straight away but ask EXACTLY what it means.

Good idea Soapy

I agree with Beantree. Generally Covenants aren't usually invoked unless there is an issue or complaint; unfortunately, you are at the mercy of your neighbours, and their privilege to change their minds. Equally, where one resident, might be fine, they could sell their house and the new owner isn't keen.

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Section 12 of the Allotments Act 1950:

it shall be lawful for the occupier of any land to keep, otherwise than by way of trade or business, hens or rabbits in any place on the land

 

Edited by Geoid

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16 minutes ago, Geoid said:

Section 12 of the Allotments Act 1950:

it shall be lawful for the occupier of any land to keep, otherwise than by way of trade or business, hens or rabbits in any place on the land

 

:clap:

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