Could your Chicken Coop get you in Hot Water?
Falling Fowl of Restrictive Covenants - Why Your Chicken Coop Could Be Prohibited
After several decades of an inexorable progression towards lifestyles geared for convenience, many people are now moving back to basics. People are seeing the benefits of cooking their own food rather than microwaving ready meals and they are growing their own produce. Many householders are also keen to keep chickens but some may not be able to.
It is all too easy to think that your home and your garden are yours to do whatever you want with. However, buried deep in the smallest of small print of your title deeds or lease you may find restrictive covenants which prevent you from doing all manner of things from parking a van on your drive to keeping chickens in your garden. Breaching one of these could land you in deep trouble and cost you a fortune. It pays not to fall foul of restrictive covenants which prohibit poultry!
A Question of Time
Some of these covenants date back many years and could now be anachronisms. You may be able to overturn these by making an application to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) but the process can be long and costly. Other covenants are of more recent vintage and are included by developers to ensure that their estates remain attractive and are the preferred places to invest. These can include stipulations about the hanging of washing, the parking of commercial vehicles or the installation of security cameras. They may also refer to the keeping of livestock.
Chicken Coop Choices
If you would like to install a then it is wise to check that you are not restricted from doing so. If you find that there is a restrictive covenant then you are faced with a difficult choice. You could challenge the covenant, give up on your idea altogether or proceed anyway and then plead ignorance if you are caught.
Treating Your Neighbours
Whether you are permitted to keep chickens or not, it is your immediate neighbours who would be the most likely to object to your poultry or to report you. This being the case it is always best to keep the neighbours on side. Talk to them about your plans to keep chickens and ease their concerns regarding noise, mess, smells and rats. The gift of a few eggs might also help and you should check the wording of the covenant as this could be vague and may enable you to argue that your chickens are pets.
The longer you manage to keep your chickens without inducing a complaint, the more likely you are to win out if you have to challenge a restrictive covenant. If a chicken coop has featured on your property for several years without issue then it becomes harder for anyone to assert that your chickens are a nuisance.
Chickens are a fabulous lifestyle choice but your chicken coop may not meet with universal approval and could be prohibited. Check your deeds or lease carefully and keep the neighbours happy to ensure that your poultry does not land you in hot water.