Restrictive conditions are a reality during property transactions. Be aware of restrictions before buying.
When viewing a home, most prospective buyers will ask questions about the condition of the plumbing, what maintenance has been carried out and so forth. However, very few people ask about the restrictive conditions that may be attached to the property they are interested in buying.
The problem with not knowing about these restrictions is that you could discover too late that your plans for adding another storey or subdividing the property can’t be realised because of them.
Restrictive conditions are stipulated in title deeds, which are usually retained by the lender, and are not usually provided to prospective buyers. However, buyers are entitled to obtain a copy of the title deed from the deeds office or the bank holding the bond.
What are restrictive conditions?
Restrictive conditions limit the owners’ use of the property in some way – usually to protect the amenities and character of an area.
Common restrictive conditions include:
The property may not be subdivided.
A set height limit for buildings on the property. For example, no structures of over two storeys are permitted.
Buildings in residential areas may not be used for business purposes.
Only a certain percentage of the erf may be covered in buildings.
Restrictions on heritage properties or areas could include that only certain colours may be used on exterior walls and that only certain kinds of boundary walls and fences may be erected.
It may be possible to get restrictive property conditions lifted or amended. However, this is a complex legal procedure, with costs including legal fees and municipal fees. These will vary from one municipality to another, so check this with your local authority before making a final buying decision.
Even if your proposed renovations or alterations don’t require rezoning or the complete removal of the restrictive conditions, you will still need to obtain permission from your local municipality.
Because of the technical and legal complexities, getting professional assistance to ensure the process is correctly performed without unnecessary delays and costs would be advisable.
Although it may be possible to get restrictive conditions repealed, finding out before signing an offer to purchase what restrictive conditions apply to a property you are considering buying will save you a lot of trouble.