A restrictive covenant is a promise that the current owner of the land or property is to not undertake certain things.
This is common practice with developers of new housing developments, placing restrictive covenants on new homes. Sometimes developers place these restrictive covenants to protect property prices and prevent any alteration to the design of the property and the overall look of the street.
Garage conversions externally are a subtle change to the overall look of the property and if using matching materials, usually the developer doesn’t have a problem with you converting the garage. Also, some restrictive covenants become obsolete after so many years.
If you’re unsure or you think this concerns you, it would be advisable to check your property title deeds to see if there are any restrictive covenants. If so, obtain the developers' permission in writing explaining your intentions to convert the garage.
If someone on your street has already undertaken a garage conversion, you could ask them to see how they got on with their garage conversion. It’s also a good indication the developers allowed that particular garage conversion to be undertaken.
If the developer objects to the garage conversion, think about part converting the garage. This is where the garage door is not removed and the front part of the garage is kept as storage. We can also advise you on other solutions too.
If you’re in any doubt about a covenant on your title deeds to your property always seek advice from your legal representative.
Permitted Development Rights...
In 2008 the law was changed allowing certain types of development to be undertaken called Permitted Development Rights.
Permitted development entitles you to carry out certain limited forms of building work without the need to make an application for planning permission. A garage conversion is classed as permitted development, so, therefore, is highly unlikely to require a planning application. However, always contact your local Council for advice before you start any building or alteration work on your home.
Nevertheless, permitted development rights can be removed from some properties with regard to garage conversions and therefore you should contact your local Council before proceeding, particularly if you live in new housing development, in a conservation area or in a listed building.
Certificate of Lawfulness...
Virtually all internal alterations such as garage conversions are exempt from planning control. Unless they are protected by a condition attached to a previous planning application or if the work is undertaken on a listed building or you live within a conservation area. If neither of the above applies to your property, then planning permission is usually not required.
We advise you contact your local Council just to let them know you’re intending to convert the garage. They will contact you back within several days letting you know if you would need planning or not.
Usually, where no planning is required, they will advise you of this as an opinion only, based on the information you have provided to the Council. The Council in their reply may suggest that to have legal certainty, that the garage conversion is Lawful, you may have to apply to the Council for a Lawful Development Certificate, this being a Certificate of Lawfulness.
Therefore, a Certificate of Lawfulness if approved, certifies that a development (in this case a garage conversion) is protected from enforcement action because the garage conversion is lawful.
To apply for a Lawful Development Certificate would require an application similar to a planning application and a set of scaled drawings would be required. There would also be an application fee of around £85 - £100.
Most people go ahead with their garage conversion based on the opinion of the Council advising the garage conversion does not need planning permission and that this work falls within permitted development rights.
If you do live within a conservation area, a listed building or on a new housing development, you may have restrictions placed on your land/property. Therefore, it would be advisable to read the other notes on this page for further guidance.
Party Wall etc. Act 1996...
If for instance, your garage conversion will affect the dividing wall or boundary wall both being known as a Party Wall. You will have a responsibility under the Party Wall Act 1996 to contact your neighbour before you start the garage conversion.
Basically, in most cases, you and your neighbour both share the party wall, you both have rights and responsibilities to each other and legal responsibility under the 1996 Party Wall Act, when either you or your neighbour carry out certain building works on the party wall.
If you think this concerns you, talk to your neighbour about your plans to convert your garage because a party wall agreement must be in place before you start the garage conversion.