Time to do your legal homework

Our lawyer Katharine Marshall discusses restrictive covenants and the legal implications of working from home
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Time to do your legal homework
© Merrily Harpur
Question: I have just bought the freehold of a house and I was told by my solicitor that there are many covenants on the title. One says I cannot run any business from the house. However, I am an accountant and sometimes I bring work home in the evening. Would this be a breach of covenant? How can I protect myself?

Answer: This type of covenant is called a restrictive covenant because it restricts what you can do with your land. Without seeing the precise wording it is hard to say whether working from home would breach it.

If the wording is ambiguous then it may be void but you could be in breach, especially if you do the majority of your work regularly at home for long periods of time. If your work is only sporadic and you mainly work elsewhere, it is less likely that you are in breach.

The best solution for peace of mind is to obtain a restrictive covenant indemnity insurance policy. By paying a "one-off" premium you will be protected if a claim arises. This can be a fairly quick process and can cover successors in title should you later decide to sell your house.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Katharine Marshall please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk, or write to: Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5EE.

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here.

Katharine is a solicitor and director at Pitmans Solicitors (www.pitmans.com).

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