‘My neighbours turned their home into a holiday let against the rules – can I stop them?’

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Dear Property Doctors, 

I live on a small development of freehold houses which, when they were built 10 years ago, had a covenant on the deeds to the effect that they could not be let out as holiday homes. 

As I live on the Norfolk coast it was to be expected that a number of the properties would be second homes. But now I am dismayed to find that my immediate neighbours are renting out their bolt hole to holiday makers, which I feel breaks the covenant.

The development has a Management Committee, but their remit only extends to looking after the areas of block paving. I suspect that, 10 years on, the developer would be unlikely to be interested in enforcing the covenant, or would they? 

While I don’t wish to fall out with my neighbours, I really feel that they are pushing the boundaries somewhat. What, if anything, can I do?

JM, by email

Unfortunately, this is a complex area. The answer depends on who is entitled to enforce the covenant against holiday home use. 

You could only enforce the covenant yourself if there is what is known as a “building scheme”. In order for there to be such a scheme, the transfers of all the houses would have to include the same restrictive covenants and it would have to have been made clear that the intention was that any owner could enforce the covenants against any other.  

I would strongly advise that you, and any other of your neighbours who are also concerned about this apparent breach of the covenant, take legal advice. If necessary, you would have to apply for an injunction preventing the use as a holiday home which would be expensive.

Even if you were able to obtain an injunction it would be difficult to police. Someone would have to keep a weather eye on the internet to see if the property was being advertised as a holiday let.

It might also be worth checking with your planning officer whether planning permission should have been granted for the holiday home use. Normally that is not required but certainly in London there are special rules that prohibit lettings for less than 90 days in any one year. Similar rules may apply elsewhere. 

David Fleming is the head of property litigation at William Heath & Co solicitors (williamheath.co.uk)

Every week, The Telegraph’s Property Doctors bring expertise on renovations and DIY, planning, buying and selling, lettings, legal issues and taxes. Send your questions to propertydoctors@telegraph.co.uk

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