When two people agree to buy and sell a property, the process may be completed without any hassle, and the new owner can take the keys without any particular worry. However, sometimes additional clauses may come into the picture that could markedly affect how a particular owner can enjoy such a property should they proceed. These clauses are called "easements" and can come in many different formats, including what is often known as a "right to light." Why is this particularly important in the solar energy age, and how could something like this affect your potential purchase?
Easements and Restrictive Covenants
In broad terms, an easement gives an individual access to another entity's land, so they can use the land for a particular purpose. It can also come across as a restrictive covenant, which may restrict how a particular landowner can enjoy their land. In the latter case, the landowner in question may not be able to build on part of their land if, by doing so, it would overshadow a neighbouring property. The argument would be that this could prohibit solar access in what is colloquially known as the "right to light."
According to the neighbouring landowner, they would not be able to take full advantage of any usable solar energy, which could restrict their enjoyment of their own property. In other words, they may not be able to take advantage of any cost savings associated with solar energy if you were to develop your property in a certain way.
A restrictive covenant might prevent you from building an extension, a stand-alone garage or even introducing trees and other greenery that could grow to become an issue.
Registering a Restrictive Covenant
Before anyone can register a restrictive covenant against a neighbouring property, they have to make a very strong case. The landowner in question can certainly fight back if they feel that such a covenant would be too restrictive or unreasonable. It may be necessary for an independent party to adjudicate before a decision can be made either way.
What to Do Now
If a particular property you are looking at has a restrictive covenant, you need to decide whether that is a game-changer or not. Is there anything that you can do about it at this stage, or can you enter into discussions with the party that owns the easement with a view to a different conclusion? It's best if you talk all of these matters through with your conveyancer first, as they will probably have more experience and can advise you accordingly.
Contact a conveyancing service to learn more.