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Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
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userMel B
Posted: 26 January 2006 10:53 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Just thought I'd mention that we're buying a new bungalow and despite assurances that all was okay, we've just found out that it has a restrictive covenant to the effect that we can't put our motorhome on the parking bays at the front of the property - it's a corner plot so the bays are at the front rather than the side. The restrictions is because it can't be parked 'in front of the building line' (the bungalow's front wall) or outside any fence, hedge etc at the front of the property, of which there wasn't one.

However, after frightening the builders that we might pull out of the deal we've just managed to get them to agree to put up a boundary fence at the furthest front point of our plot which is the far side of the parking bays, and by doing this the 'line' of restriction has moved from the bungalow's front wall to the fence. Hey presto, the motorhome can now be legally parked there!!! Mad or what? Admittedly the Covenant did say the restriction applied to a 'caravan house' but it was felt that this could be interpreted as a motorhome if a complaint was made so it wasn't worth the risk.

Just thought you might find it interesting!
userbill h
Posted: 27 January 2006 12:23 AM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Regarding a large vehicle in the gardens of bungalows. You might consider that using a Motorhome could be classified as a 'hobby' and that the 'hobby' has to be kept and maintained at home.

When one has a hobby that involves a large object, the object then falls into a different catagory of use.

Some while ago a large steam engine owner who lived in a bungalow in a quiet 'close' won his case by claiming that the object was his hobby.

There is a book in the library about this very man and his steam engine. I believe the objection was height and size, and also road noise.

In the book there are pictures showing a group of councilors measuring noise etc.

He won his case claiming that the object was his hobby.

Next time I'm looking in our library I'l see if its listed.

bill h
userBrian Kirby
Posted: 27 January 2006 12:57 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


This has become a very common type of restriction.
I assume your solicitor (and the vendor's) has given you the written assurance that the presence of the fence does "legalise" the parking of a motorhome?
I ask because you can't stop a spiteful neighbour subsequently bringing a case if they're so minded and, ultimately, whether you actually do have a right to park the motorhome would be decided by the court, not by anything the builder (or the solicitor) said or did. If you lost, (unless you appealed) you'd just have to move it elsewhere.
Safest would be to get some attachment to the deeds, or get the covenant changed or clarified, so that you are granted a positive right, in writing, rather than relying on someone else's interpretation of what it all means. However, I suspect all that will by now be out of the question.
All the surrounding properties will (presumably) suffer the same restriction, so anyone else wishing to park a similar vehicle (or perhaps a large, signwritten, van) elsewhere, but running into objections, just might try to cite your motorhome as a precedent. If the means of "legalising" your situation looks a bit too "clever" and that person lost his claim, your "right" could be lost as well.
Sorry if this all seems a bit downbeat and obvious, it's just that my experience of the diligence with which conveyancer's do their job is very mixed. They don't always ask all the right questions, and some don't even seem to read the documents!
Also, it is often the case that the person actually handling the conveyancing has little (or insufficient) legal qualification and doesn't recognise a situation where a properly qualified solicitor should be providing the advice. If they get it wrong and you suffer loss as a consequence, they're awfully difficult to sue unless you've got their advice all nice and clear in writing.
It's that last bit that's important, writing something down does seem to focus the mind!
Hope this helps and doesn't merely depress!
Regards
Brian
userPeteC
Posted: 27 January 2006 1:39 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


When we moved here there was a covenant stopping the parking of caravans

Our solicitor contacted the builders (who were the originators of the covenant) and were duly informed that this was to prevent people LIVING in a caravan on the premises
It did not preclude the said caravan being used as accomodation fro VISITORS for a FEW DAYS per ANNUM

Agree with getting things down in writting even if only for your own peace of mind
userBill
Posted: 27 January 2006 2:11 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


My understanding is that a motor-home is legally a car - not a van, and not a caravan - and that therefore you can do anything with it that you can legally do with a car.

I'd be interested if anybody can confirm (or refute!) this understanding.

My local council says I cannot park my motor-home in a pay-and-display; I don't think they have much intention of trying to enforce this, because plenty of vans park there without problems, but I should like to be sure of my facts in case they do.
userPeteC
Posted: 27 January 2006 4:23 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Some Insurance Companies INSIST that a motorhome is a MOTORISED CARAVAN

In Allerdale BC any one can park in the car parks
As long as you PUT a TICKET on the WINDSCREEN for EACH SPACE TAKEN UP

Some car parks have a WEIGHT LIMIT that prevents coaches and trucks from using car parks

You cannot say park the front of your van in a bay and leave the rear sticking out blockingor restricting the use of a walk/drive way

Once the Town Centre development are completed I should be able to inform mmm for inclusion in the magazine list
userMike Chapman
Posted: 27 January 2006 6:17 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Hello Bill,

Ignoring for one minute the sensibilities of the neighbours and any bad feeling.

I have recently consulted a solicitor on this very issue in relation to the conditions specified in the Feu (Scottish Covenant?) on my property.

His legal ruling, in writing, is that a Motor Caravan IS classified as a car for the purposes of definition and is definitely NOT a caravan.

For a Motor Caravan to be specifically excluded from parking on a property under the terms of a covenant it must be specifically mentioned, EG. "Any caravan, MOTOR CARAVAN or commercial vehicle...". What I am not sure about is where a motor caravan changes from car to heavy goods vehicle. I cannot imagine, for instance, that a 33 ft 7 ton GVW US RV would be seen legally as a car.

If there is any dispute about parking on the property then the vehicle, if it is taxed, insured and has a valid MOT can be parked on the highway outside the property as long as it does not constitute an obstruction (difficult definition this) and does not break any parking laws (eg. Double yellow lines, restricted parking notification etc.).

I was advised that the best course of action is to take the covenant document to a solicitor and ask for a ruling, exactly what I did.

Regards,

Mike Chapman.
userMel B
Posted: 27 January 2006 6:26 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Don't worry, we're getting it put in writing before Exchange of Contracts takes place so that should solve any possible problem in the future. The Covenant clearly states the "building line" or "boundary fence" and, so long as the fence is put in by the builder prior to Completion, which is what will happen, this will solve the problem.

The fence is gonna cost us £273 to have put in but it will be 1.8m tall and 7.0m long, good quality lap fencing, and will also partially protect the side of the motorhome from the weather so it's not that bad really. The builders had suggested 9.5m long but we couldn't see the point as it would really p*ss off whoever buys the plot opposite and make his/her property like Colditz as the fence will be much closer to their property than ours. We have, of course, asked for the good side of the fence to be facing our plot seeing as we're paying, only fair I think you'd agree!

There are few properties that will have a problem with parking a motorhome or caravan, but I suspect that most of them wouldn't want one anyway as they are mainly the mews style houses where you wouldn't get one on unless it was only 6ft long anyway! Anyway as most of them have a side drive and they are permitted on the site normally, just not usually in front of the property unless there is a boundary fence further out which ours will soon have.

It's apparently not that uncommon to have one or two proeprties having a different covenant, a friend of ours lives down a cul-de-sac and one of her neighbours has a right to park his caravan at his house, even though none of the others have this permission. He made sure he got it amended when he bought the property from new, which none of the others bothered about.

If we hit any problems I'll report back and might look at the "hobby" scenario instead!!!
userBill
Posted: 27 January 2006 8:43 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Hi Mike

My understanding - again I'll be glad if anybody can confirm or refute it - is that it is a "car" up to 7.5 tons GVW.
userbill h
Posted: 28 January 2006 12:18 AM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


When the lap fencing is erected consider the elements etc. You may have the 'best' looking side on your side but if the weather then atacks the 'worst' side all the time, you'll end up replacing it more often.

bill h
userBrian Kirby
Posted: 28 January 2006 1:35 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


The problem with all this is that danger of accepting, at face value, anything stated above.
The glorious advantage, and the drawback, of the English legal system (I say English because, for example, Scottish law is different) is that it is a combination of statute law and case (and/or common) law.

This means that anything written, whether by legislator, solicitor, barrister or judge, falls eventually to be examined in court. All parties may be totally convinced at what they meant when they wrote it, but when it gets to court you find out what it really meant, and the two interpretations frequently differ!

Thus, one man's motorhome may be another man's caravan, another man's delivery 'van and a further man's car. The question tends to be decided not upon whether you think your interpretation is reasonable (even if you may have stretched credulity a bit in the process) but whether the average person, not being involved in whatever dispute has ended in court, thinks it reasonable.

That's the problem, each case is tried on its merits and the verdict may vary, even if the facts broadly co-incide, because the circumstances varied.

Under the circumstances, good advice from a properly qualified source should always be sought wherever there is the slightest doubt.

This may involve expenditure, but even that is probably cheaper than losing in court!

Sorry to be the Jerimiah

Brian
userMike Chapman
Posted: 28 January 2006 4:01 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Hello Brian,

I do not think you have been a Jerimiah just trying to make sense of a complex subject like the rest of us.

Your comment "Under the circumstances, good advice from a properly qualified source should always be sought wherever there is the slightest doubt" seems to conflict with your previous three paragraphs.

How would you define a properly qualified source if an interpretation by a legislator, solicitor, barrister or judge is only reasonable and if "an average person, not being involved in whatever dispute has ended in court thinks it reasonable". I doubt that this type of dispute would be decided by jury trial so the finding would have to be by a judge or magistrate taking account of the definitions, legal advice and precedent.

In my situation I consulted a solicitor who specialises in property law. While I would accept that any case can be referred for judgement, for now I have to accept that he is correct in his definition which is specific to my particular circumstances.

I totally agree with you that good legal advice should be sought.

Unfortunately this is one of those situations that is often no win. Even if one is found to be legally correct it does not stop dissatisfied neighbours from making ones life a misery even to the extent (as has been reported) of damaging the vehicle/property out of spite.

An interesting discussion nevertheless.

Regards,

Mike Chapman.
userBill
Posted: 28 January 2006 6:39 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Mike

You are absolutely right to say "Even if one is...legally correct it does not stop dissatisfied neighbours from...damaging the vehicle"

Exactly this has happened to me - several times. The police confirmed that I was completely in the right but, as I cannot prove who did it, they cannot take the matter further.

And they do not have the resources to put in temporary CCTV to catch the culprit(s) as all their funds are devoted to one-armed-Black-lesbian-outreach-coordinators.

They also made it quite clear that if I did anything about it myself I should end up sharing a cell with Tony Martin.
userBrian Kirby
Posted: 28 January 2006 6:55 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Hello Mike

Sorry about the apparent conflict. First, there has to be a disagreement between neighbours over what one, or other, is entitled to do. Then, that has to have become so irreconsilable that it goes to law. If/when it get to court, as I understand it (but it depends a bit on the court and the judge), the test applied is whether the above mentioned average person would understand the judgement to be reasonable.

You're right, no jury. However, I understand, that what the court generally tries to achieve is a judgement that looks/sounds like common sense? If it does, it's probably the right judgement.

Sometimes, the court is bound by the written word, sometimes they fall over backwards to try to find a sensible and fair interpretation, when a literal interpretation appears unreasonable. The late Lord Denning was famous for this.

That is why I think the prefessional advice is so important. You need someone detached from the issues, with close knowledge of the law, the court precedents and how the court will probably view the particular issues, to look at the problem and then advise accordingly. Even then, all they can really say is that they think a court would find this or that argument reasonable or unreasonable.

It is then up to the individual to decide how far they want to push the issue. That can be a very hard decision if it means backing down!

It is a bit of a lottery, but then it seems it has been since the Normans invented it! However, it does work eventually, although it sometimes has to get to the Lords before it works properly. Main problem is the cost, and the financial risk to the appellants. However, I think to some extent that is supposed to restrain people from running to law at the drop of a hat (Maxwell?), and encourage settlement by negotiation. Whatever, it's what we've got!

Regards

Brian
userMike Chapman
Posted: 29 January 2006 1:10 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


Hello Bill,

Really sorry to hear that your vehicle has been damaged several times. Probably the best bet is, if your vehicle can be seen from your house, to install your own camera (covert) with a link to VCR/TV. These are not very expensive and probably a great deal cheaper than having to keep repairing the vehicle. That way you can find out who is doing the damage and pass the tape over to the police. From my experience once they/he/she realises that their activities are being recorded they stop.

I was just wondering if any of the one-armed-black-lesbian-outreach-co-ordinators belonged to the Disabled Coloured Gay Wing of the Caravan Club.(Hope that does not get us thrown off the forum).

Hello Brian,

No arguments with any of your last posting, our law is not perfect but a great deal better than some other nations.

Regards,

Mike Chapman.
userMel B
Posted: 29 January 2006 6:37 PM
Subject: Restrictive Covenants & motorhomes
 


As has already been said, it is ultimately up to what a court (or judge) would say if the parking of our motorhome on the parking bays was contested, however, I think any neighbour would really have difficulty in making a case especially since every other property in the cul-de-sac can park a motorhome or whatever they want on their own 'side' drives without a problem. It would have to be a very harsh judge who said that one property couldn't use the bays that were allocated to it, especially since we have done all that we can to ensure that they are not unduly affected by looking out on to our motorhome, but instead onto a fence against which they can grow plants, climbers etc (we won't object) to make it more appealing, and gives them more privacy. It means that they can also use the front of their property for extra parking in addition to their tandem side drive if they want so that they don't have to play 'Butterflies' with the cars if they have more than one (if you've ever seen the TV series of this name, you'll know what I mean!).

Ultimately this is the best we can do at present, we are also going to explore the possibility of getting access to the rear garden of the property but we can't do that until we actually own it and can approach the Council then.
In any case, the bungalow in Ashby (near Scunthorpe) is being bought to let it out to tenants for a couple of years or so before we can afford to leave work and move into it, so there's no immediate rush, and the deal we're getting from the builder is a stonker ... 5% deposit & 6 months mortgage paid - we couldn't buy a 'second hand' one for that price. If the worst happens we could put it in storage but it wouldn't be ideal, then again the discount we are getting would pay for an awful lot of storage.
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