Developer orders homeowner to rip up his drive
A Hartlepool man who paved over his front lawn has been ordered to reinstate the grass by the developer he bought the property from.
John Twidale, 60, spent £2,000 on paving blocks last year, after other residents had done the same, thinking it would make life easier and look tidier.
However, he's now been told by Gleeson Homes, from whom he bought the house two and a half years ago, that he must reinstate the grass by the end of the month.
"The grass was against a wall. You couldn't get a lawn mower up against it. It just looked like a mess," Mr Twidale tells the Hartlepool Mail.
"It is my house, I paid for it. Nobody has complained. All the neighbours said what a lovely job it was."
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The paving apparently contravenes the terms and conditions under which he bought the house, which specify what changes can and cannot be made 'to maintain the attractive appearance of the development and property values'.
And Gleeson Homes says it plans to go after other residents who have paved over their gardens too.
It's not as unusual as you might think for new homes to have restrictive covenants of this sort. Private estates often require homeowners to maintain their property to a certain standard and keep an estate looking uniform.
The reason is often that developers want to keep an estate looking as good as possible while they are still selling properties.
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In 2015, for example, we reported on a new housing development in Beverley where residents were banned from hanging out their washing in any way that could 'detract from the visual enjoyment of the building'.
Others place restrictions on where people can keep their bins or even what colour they can paint their front door.
And last summer, a security engineer was ordered to remove CCTV cameras from his property, because of, first, rules on altering the exterior of the property and, second, rules on potential 'damage, nuisance or annoyance to the management company or to the neighbourhood'.
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All in all, it pays to make sure that you're aware of any restrictive covenants that may have been placed on your new home.
"Breaching one can be an expensive mistake, so it pays to know if your property has any and, if necessary, protect yourself from any fallout," says Sue Alexander of law firm Close Thornton.
"Consumer protection regulations do require that estate agents provide buyers with all the information they require to make a transactional decision and this should in theory include informing potential buyers about any restrictive covenants on a property."