The Telegraph newspaper (link here) recently published an article in relation to a property management company that took legal action against a couple to have their dog, Vinnie, evicted from their house. The property management company argued that there was a “no-pets policy” in place in the gated community, much to the horror of the property owners. Given that our own canine staff member is also called Vinnie, this article is a timely reminder to ensure that covenants or other restrictions on the title to a property are thoroughly checked before you have an unconditional obligation to purchase a property.
A covenant is a promise that is registered on the title to a property that will require the owner of the property to do something (positive covenant) or to prevent certain activities (negative covenant). An example of a positive covenant is what we see in new property subdivisions where there are often requirements to a build using only certain materials or where the requirement to build and complete landscaping is required to be completed in a certain period of time. Examples of a negative covenant are where there is a prohibition on completing a further subdivision of a property, using a property for short term accommodation uses – or prohibitions on pets.
Covenants are very common in new subdivisions where there is an intention to achieve a high building standard and rights to use commonly owned facilities such as private walking tracks and golf courses (In Queenstown see Jacks Point, Lakeside Estates, Sicilian Lane). In New Zealand covenants are enforceable by the property owners who receive the benefit of such covenants which will usually be properties in close proximity or in the same subdivision.
If you have any questions pertaining to covenants or any general property law queries please do not hesitate to contact Elliot Goldman, Principal of Goldman Legal at [email protected] or +64 3 441 2141.