A covenant is just a rule governing what can and cannot or must and must not be done on the land which is affected by (burdened with) the covenant.
For registered land covenants are either set out in the Charges Register of the Official Copies or else in a separate document held by the Land Registry, in which case that document will be referred to in the Charges Register as containing covenants.
They are imposed by the owner of land when it is sold, usually where the seller owns other land in the immediate vicinity and so wants to retain some control for the sake of this other land. A negative obligation is often referred to as a restrictive covenant.
Positive covenants are obligations to do something, such as keep contribute to a maintenance fund or maintain a wall.
Conversely, a covenant to use the property only as a residential dwelling is actually a restrictive covenant not to use the property for any other purpose than a residential dwelling.
It is important to understand the difference between positive and negative covenants as not all covenants are enforceable and different rules on enforceability apply depending on whether the covenant is positive or negative.
Usually new covenants are contained in the same deed that transfers ownership to the covenantee which deals with this condition. The successor of the covenantee must have a legal estate.A covenant can be created by separate deed (a Deed of Covenant).The deed will need to be protected by the entry of a notice on the register of title and needs to be signed by the covenantor though not necessarily by the covenantee.Restrictive covenants are rules preventing certain things from being done on the land, such as keeping animals or using the property for business purposes.Sometimes a covenant can be worded negatively but be positive or vice versa, for example “not to allow the fence to fall into disrepair” is really a positive obligation to maintain the fence.
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The same legal principle however (which simply means that a contract is private and binding only on the contracting parties) means that covenants are not always binding on or do not always benefit future owners.