Covenants, like chancel repair liability, is complex: hire a lawyer
Sometimes people email me asking about aspects of property and planning law, and I always say that they need to talk to a solicitor. Worryingly, sometimes they reply that their lawyer told them to email me!
Two of the most complicated legal issues I have had to get my head round as a councillor have been chancel repair liability, which is a throwback to medieval times when the church owned lots of land. I've posted about it before (see the old blog) but the main thing to say is that (a) you can get insurance to protect against the liability to contribute to church repairs, and (b) it isn't something to dismiss lightly just because the mortgage company says so.
So, onto covenants, restrictive covenants. The thing here is that sometimes people say to me that they have a covenant with the deeds of their property that prevents building on garden land, or houses being altered, and so on. It is absolutely the case that a covenant is a form of legal impediment: meaning that someone may get planning permission, but the covenant will still stand. However, a covenant is not a complete blocker - if the other party can show that it is obsolete then the courts can strike it out, awarding what sometimes can be quite a modest compensation.
One key thing is not to delay taking action if you think the covenant is breached - the longer the delay, the greater the risk of the courts not ordering the covenant must stand. So off to the lawyers I'm afraid is still the advice.