Q: We have recently bought a Redrow home with a beautiful green space in front of our house, which according to Redrow's covenant is for "rest and quiet recreation". Some residents and friends play noisy and disruptive football and other ball games there, and Redrow subsequently wrote to all residents telling them that this was not acceptable and they would be erecting appropriate signage. Subsequently Redrow did nothing about the signs, and its regional managing director has now said that it is not practical to enforce this covenant, yet it did erect signs to prevent dog fouling. Redrow is building lots of developments that feature a "peaceful" green space as a selling point. But if Redrow doesn't enforce the covenants, what can be done?
Steven Hall, North Yorkshire
A: A proper answer would involve a full review of the deeds and documents relating to the estate, but I can speculate about a few options. First, it is possible that a residents' management company will automatically be formed on the sale of the last house on the estate. If all the houses have already been sold and this hasn't happened, then you (perhaps with other interested residents) might be able to reach a private arrangement with the housebuilder to buy the communal areas. That ownership might come with onerous responsibilities, however, so this is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Second, the deeds might have set up what is known as a building scheme. This would mean the restrictive covenants governing the estate are enforceable by and against all owners of properties within the estate. A solicitor could tell you if this applies to your property. If it does, you could take legal action to prevent any breaches. That said, it may not be easy to do so without an identifiable person or group to bring action against.
Ed Cracknell appears in The Sunday Times Home Experts section answering a reader's question on their rights against rowdy neighbours in a Redrow property.
Ed is a senior associate in the property and housing litigation team.
He specialises in all aspects of property litigation and property dispute resolution. His areas of expertise include landlord and tenant disputes, business lease renewals, rent and service charge recovery, possession proceedings, and dilapidations claims.
Sunday Times Home Help 22 March 2020