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Thursday 2nd March 2023

The secret life of your Forever Home.

head of conveyancing rundlewalker solicitorsNot all declarations of love are made on Valentine’s Day. With the Easter break fast approaching, some love affairs are only just beginning. It’s traditionally the time when people fall in love with the property they choose to buy. And the courtship doesn’t last long.  

This biggest purchasing decision of our lives takes the majority of us just - wait for it - eight minutes. According to a survey conducted by OnePoll, those crucial 480 seconds put speed dating in the shade. This rush to the proverbial property altar also takes less time than choosing a satellite TV package or a holiday!

At Rundlewalker, our Conveyancing Team is never surprised. ‘We fell in love with the staircase’, ‘the navy blue front door did it for me’, ‘the secluded garden just blew us away’. It’s lovely to hear this and play our part in fulfilling people’s hopes and dreams. But we’re also here to keep that path of true love running smoothly to the moment when you collect the keys.

All romances have hiccups, and in terms of properties, those hiccups are called covenants. They’re not insurmountable but it’s our job, along with the buyers and sellers, to iron out the speed bumps up the stairway to property heaven.

Whether you’re buying new or old, a flat or a country pile, just about everything comes with a few rules attached. And our Conveyancing Team work very hard to make sure we find out everything you need to know before you make the final commitment.

Older properties often throw up a range of quirky covenants that offer a glimpse of the past. Banning use of the property as a beer house, a lunatic asylum, a brothel or carrying on any ‘objectionable trade’ might have been deal breakers back then. But they still hold good today, just in case you’re thinking of running a pop-up pub or doing something a bit dodgy. ‘No swingers’ used to mean a ban on an outdoor swing, rather than its rather lascivious implication today. Bans on ‘poultry houses and houses on wheels’ were the equivalent of today’s hen coops and caravans.  

property covenantsOld chapels, schools and hospitals can have interesting covenants. You might change your mind about snapping up the trendy apartment that used to be the morgue. But most buyers would probably not object to paying a one-off £15 chancel repair liability, in place just in case the local church falls down.

Most modern properties have covenants too, mainly to preserve the outside appearance of an estate. For example, uniform exterior paint, front door colours, open front gardens as opposed to fences, are often things that have to be considered. Newer properties tend to have thinner walls so you might discover that having a late night guitar session releasing your inner Brian May muse, won’t be allowed, let alone appreciated. Similarly, satellite dishes, caravans, boats and pets might not get the greenlight. Hanging out your washing in the communal garden might be a no-no, along with keeping chickens or bees, sub-letting or running a business from your home.

A ban on the property being used as a second home or an Air BnB might just be the brick wall to your intentions. As Jodie Everard, Rundlewalker’s Head of Conveyancing advises: ‘Most residential properties will have some kind of covenant about carrying on a trade or a business.

‘In recent years, covid and lockdowns meant many of us were forced to work from home. These were exceptional times but for most people this involved sitting at a computer and attending meetings online. The trend for working from home at least part of the week looks like being here to stay.

‘This type of covenant, about carrying on a trade or business, is more often than not intended to prevent customers and/or trades coming and going to a property. In other words the kind of visitor and vehicle traffic you wouldn’t expect to a normal residential property. So rest assured, we can advise and reassure our buyers and sellers they can safely work from home, when required, particularly if it’s desk based and not visible or audible to their neighbours.’

For more information, call our Residential Conveyancing Team on 01392 209209 or contact us via email at

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.