Citizens Advice Bureau



Restrictive covenants

Extent: Jersey
Updated 25 November 2013


What is a restrictive covenant

1 Various covenants may be written into contracts of title to property protecting the rights of neighbours, or the public, or perpetuating ancient agreements. Such items controlled could be rights of ways, size of windows overlooking neighbouring property, or height of building.

2 Purchasers of property should be told of any restrictive covenants by their lawyers at the time of passing contract. Should any development take place, any covenant must be adhered to.

What if a covenant is broken

3 If a client realises that a covenant may have been broken, s/he should notify her/his lawyer immediately. The other party involved will be informed by the lawyer when a decision has been taken as to what further action to take. The client should not raise the issue with the neighbour until s/he has spoken to her/his lawyer.

4 If a property vendor discovers that development has been done to the property which contravenes a covenant there will be a hold-up in the conveyancing. It is often the purchaser's lawyer who makes such a discovery. There are three ways to overcome the difficulty:-

- The building contravening the covenant could be demolished or altered.

- A defective title indemnity could be obtained from a specialist insurer which would provide cover in the event of litigation for damages against the vendor.

- It may be possible to get the agreement of the people whose benefit from the covenant has been contravened for the contract to go ahead with the building remaining (a sum of money may become involved).

Impossibility of challenge after forty years

5 Most Jersey lawyers believe that provided a building has been in unaltered structural existence for forty years or more without people with the benefit of the restrictive covenant taking legal proceedings then the building cannot be challenged. The covenant would still exist and any further alteration could be the subject of action up to another forty year period.