What are they, and what do they mean for you?
Land covenants in Northland are restrictions or limitations placed on a piece of land and registered against the title. Covenants cover a range of activities, from how big a dwelling must be to restrictions on any further subdivision. Land covenants may cause frustration when you’ve bought a property and are then faced with a raft of limitations as to what you can and can’t do with it, so it pays to read the fine print when purchasing a property and have your goodGround Real Estate specialist explain. Here, we delve into the types of covenants and what they mean for you.
What do land covenants do?
It’s all about protection. An owner of a property can place covenants which protect their interests and beliefs. For example, if a farmer subdivides some of their land into lifestyle blocks they can place covenants which protect their way of life. Developers may want to protect the value of any neighbouring land they retain, therefore they may put building covenants in place.
What are the most common types of land covenants in Northland?
As mentioned previously, building covenants protect the interests of the developer by placing certain restrictions on any dwelling built on the land. These restrictions and prohibitions protect the value of any neighbouring properties which the developer retains, and they want to prevent dwellings which look ‘shabby’ or convey an impression which is not in keeping with their development guidelines.
The most common building covenants are:
- The stipulation that a dwelling must be of a certain size, for example, minimum of 100m2
- Prohibiting the placement of relocatable homes on the property
- Temporary dwellings, which the purchaser may use to live in while building, such as portable cabins and garages, must not be lived in for longer than a certain time period.
- No second-hand building materials may be used on the outside of the dwelling
Some covenants can even require that the developer approve of the plans for any proposed dwelling, so it is essential you study the fine print very carefully before buying a property
Reverse sensitivity or no complaints covenants
Farmers subdividing their farms into lifestyle blocks often add these types of covenants in order to protect their interests and way of life. These covenants prevent people from large cities complaining or interfering with farm life and common farming practices with which they are unfamiliar. Put simply, they cannot complain about or hinder normal farm practices if they find them noisy.
Environmental land covenants – QEII, Conservation and Nga Whenua Rahui
These are different from Council covenants. These covenants are registered against properties primarily located in or near rural conservation areas. They are put in place by land owners who wish to protect Northland’s flora and fauna. Environmental land covenants can become highly prescriptive, so again, we urge you to study the covenant section of the land title thoroughly and seek advice from your goodGround Real Estate specialist.
- Environmental land covenants cover the following restrictions and prohibitions:
- Restrictions on certain pet breeds such as cats, for example.
- Stipulations that owners abide by ongoing weed control and planting of native trees.
- Owners must undertake an ongoing pest control program.
What happens if I breach a land covenant?
If you breach a land covenant you may face a $50,000 fine, and ignorance is no defence! For example, if you place a relocatable house on your property and one of the covenants prohibits this, the developer can take you to court. If you have purchased land which is part of a subdivision, then your neighbours can also take action against you, as covenants are set in place with a view to protect the values of all properties within that subdivision.
Can I have a land covenant on my land removed?
In some instances, you can have a covenant removed, if all parties who are affected by the covenants agree. In some cases, this may simply be just the developer, or in others you may need to get the approval of several neighbours in your subdivision. Again: Read the fine print!
When it comes to land covenants in Northland, we advise you to ask if you are unsure. Your lawyer, conveyancer or real estate agent know the ins and outs of land covenants and can guide you through what these can mean for you.
If you are looking for a new home or a lifestyle block, contact the friendly team at goodGround Real Estate today! We’re your experts in Northland real estate and we’re only happy to help you find your next property!