Is Your Home Really Your Castle? Tribunal Ponders

BungalowThose who are lucky enough to own the freehold of their homes are considered lords of their own castles. However, that is not true in every case, as one bungalow owner found out when he was banned from living under his own roof for two winter months every year.

The man’s clifftop bungalow was part of an estate which had been built as holiday accommodation in the 1970s. He owned the freehold, but the property was subject to a restrictive covenant which required him to move out during the coldest months of the year. He accepted that he had breached that restriction, in that he had for many years lived in the property all the year round.

He applied to the Upper Tribunal (UT) to lift the restriction, arguing that it was out of date and unreasonably interfered with his enjoyment of his home. He pointed out that the area had become less popular with tourists over the years and that most residents were now permanent. However, he faced objections from the estate’s management company, which argued that the majority of residents were still in favour of maintaining the ban on permanent occupation.

In rejecting the man’s application, the UT found that the covenant continued to provide practical benefits of substantial advantage to residents. If the man were permitted to live in his home throughout the year, others would be encouraged to follow in his footsteps. In the long term, doing away with the restriction in his case was likely to have a severe impact on the holiday character of the estate. The estate company had previously obtained an injunction against the man, requiring him to vacate his home during the relevant months.