The Plain English Guide to the Covenants: have your say!
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
We are working on a Plain English Guide to the covenants which set out the responsibilities of residents, and of the Park Meadow (Hatfield) Management Ltd Company and its directors. The original covenant , or for Freeholders more accurately “the Scheme”, is fairly general, and its language is old fashioned, but its heart is in the right place. It aims to protect the character and value of houses on the estate, and we are all signed up to it through our share ownership.
The next step in developing the Guide is to find out what areas shareholders think it should cover. Some things are fairly obvious: door colours, and new technology such as solar panels and satellite dishes for example. Others such as dogs on leads, cycling on paths and parking on front gardens are less clear cut.
We are keen to find out which areas shareholders think the Guide should address. We would like to present a draft at the 2022 AGM prior to seeking more formal shareholder approval.
The 14th August 2022 draft of the Guide is here
I hope - you have to download it I'm afraid....
Please remember that this draft is purely intended to show the kind of thing I have in mind! The committee hasn't even seen it at the time of writing (CG Sunday 18th August)
I've temporarily pasted in the draft guide below
DRAFT Park Meadow Guide (PMG) 13 August 2022
A Guide to the Company and the Protective Covenants
This guide aims to assist Shareholders by summarising the longer legal document known as the Covenant or Scheme of Management which contains obligations that apply to all 137 properties on the Estate. Copies of these documents should have been given to you by your solicitor with your share certificate when you purchased your property. It is emphasised that nothing in this guide should be construed as replacing the legally binding Scheme of Management or Covenant applicable to your property.
If you are a new owner or potential buyer of a property on Park Meadow we should emphasise that we are a friendly community! The rather formal tone of this Guide is intended to ensure that shareholders (property owners) understand what is expected of us all to protect the estate’s unique quality.
2. THE COMPANY
Park Meadow (Hatfield) Management Limited (PMML ) is one of three management companies set up by Wates in the 1960s. The directors of PMML , otherwise known as the Board or Committee, are elected at Annual General Meetings, and give their time and experience because they have an interest in maintaining the standards of the estate.
3. THE COVENANTS
PMML is obliged to operate in accordance with The Scheme of Management established in the High Court of Justice on 20 November 1972. Some aspects of the Scheme of Management are somewhat archaic, but changes cannot be made to it without returning to the High Court. Not only would this require substantial shareholder support, but it would be expensive and is not considered to be practical or necessary.
The covenants are an agreement entered into between PMML and the proprietors of all of the properties on the Estate (who are also the Shareholders). They are designed to ensure that the Estate will always be attractive and in keeping with a residential development of quality. If a shareholder sublets a property, the Shareholder must ensure that the terms of the agreement are observed by the tenant.
4. Company Obligations
A brief summary of the Company’s obligations follows:
4.1 The Scheme of Management requires the Board of Directors to enforce the covenants by all means available to it. It can require a proprietor to make a deposit against legal costs that may be incurred in taking legal action if that is thought to be necessary.
4.2 Open spaces
PMML must maintain in an attractive and orderly manner those parts of the estate laid out as open spaces, including shrubs and trees, ensuring that grassed areas are mown, reseeded and fertilised, and that paths and paved areas on Company land are properly looked after and free from obstruction.
4.2 PMML must ensure that the garage areas are kept properly repaired, cleaned and supplied with water for Shareholders’ use.
4.3 PMML also has a specific obligation to maintain the children’s’ play area as such, but this is impracticable in the current climate. The area is to be kept available for social gatherings and ball games.
5. SHAREHOLDER obligations
The Covenants entered into by Shareholders fall under the following broad headings.
5.1 Keeping properties in good repair
Shareholders are obliged to keep their premises, drains, sewers, water pipes, gutters, gas pipes, electricity cables and wires in good repair. They are required to paint the outside woodwork and ironwork so that the premises present an attractive and harmonious appearance. With the exception of doors, all woodwork must be painted white.
Shareholders, together with others benefiting from the same services, must properly maintain and clean all party walls, flues, gutters, drainpipes, sewers, water pipes, gas pipes, electricity and telephone wires and cables and share the cost of any work required to repair them.
When necessary, Shareholders are required to allow access at reasonable times to their property, to permit their neighbours to maintain parts of their property that would otherwise be inaccessible from their own property. Shareholders are also required to allow access to their property at reasonable times to permit PMML contractors to carry out necessary work which they could not otherwise carry out.
Shareholders must comply with any request, made by the Board, designed to ensure that the appearance of all buildings erected on the Estate are attractive in character and appearance, and must carry out any work required by Act of Parliament or the Local Authority.
5.2 Fences and walls
Shareholders are required to maintain in their present position the fences belonging to their property as shown in the deeds, and at such height and character so as to be in keeping with the fences on the adjoining properties. Walls and fences must be maintained in good repair.
5.3 Front gardens
Shareholders are required to maintain the garden in front or at the side of their property in good order. This applies to any shrubs or trees on their property. The garden should be kept in a cared-for style, free from weeds and other signs of neglect.
No fence, hedge, wall or division of any description should be put up to divide the garden from that of the adjoining property.
No garden ornaments or seats are to be set up or stored there. The hanging of washing in front gardens is not permitted.
For ecological reasons grass lawns should only be replaced with plastic under circumstances approved in writing by PMML
The paving of front garden areas to enable additional parking is prohibited except under special circumstances approved in writing by PMML, in which case it must be done using a permeable product, that will allow grass to continue to grow and appear to be lawn. In this scenario a minimum of 25% of the garden must remain as shrubs - either evergreen or those which will provide winter interest".
5.4 Private gardens/patios at the rear of properties.
These should also be maintained in good order and be kept neat and tidy.
Those properties with indented back garden walls where some of the back garden is contiguous with company land must keep their land at the rear in good order, and especially avoid planting anything that might damage walls. It is recognized that some houses have already created a hard boundary between their land and the company’s land. This requires the approval in writing of PMML
Garage doors must be in the styles prevalent on the Estate. Acceptable door styles and colours are in Annex III. The Board will not approve any application changing the style of or removing the door.
All garages in separate areas must be maintained in good order. The Board will not sanction the sale of garages.
The owners of garages containing drainage down pipes must ensure the pipes are kept free of leaves or any other obstructions to prevent damage to adjoining and neighbouring roofs by water pooling.
5.6 Company Land
There is an obligation on the part of the Shareholders not to damage the turf, timber etc on PMML land, or to allow anything to take place, which may be a nuisance, or to obstruct the passage of people or vehicles on roads.
Ball games for those over 10 are not allowed, except in the play area
Cycling or riding scooters on footpaths is not allowed for those aged over 8
Planting of trees on company land requires the prior approval in writing of PMML
5.7 Extensions and alterations
Shareholders, irrespective of any building or planning permission received from the Local Authority, must not without PMML’s prior consent in writing put up any additional buildings, temporary or otherwise, alter any of the timbers etc. of the property, or make any alterations in the plan or elevation: change any of the architectural decorations on the exterior; or alter the boundary or other walls, fences or hedges; make any additions either in height or projection to the premises; or use the premises for advertising or display of any kind (except for notices to sell or let).
In the event that PMML attaches conditions to its written consent the shareholder and anyone to whom the property is subsequently sold must observe them.
5.8 Conservatories and building extensions
Applications to PMML in respect of a conservatory or extension at the rear of a property will be considered on its merits. It is essential that the design and materials are in keeping with the Estate. The maximum allowed height is 2.6m from ground level irrespective of the house style involved. This is to ensure that the uniform appearance of the Estate is retained.
5.9 Television, radio aerials and satellite dishes
Satellite dishes are not allowed. Guidance on alternatives is given in Annex IV
5.9 Solar Panels
Until approved by shareholders following investigation PMML will not give permission to install solar panels on the roofs of properties. See Annex IV.
5.10 Free Passage of Utilities
There is the usual agreement concerning free passage for gas, water and electricity etc., across the property and a requirement not to block the garage areas with unattended vehicles.
5.11 Prohibition on Business Use
The Scheme of Management does not permit a property on the Estate to be used for any type of business but only as a private residence. The Board will enforce the covenant in respect of overt advertising. The Board does not however believe that it is appropriate that enquiries should be made into householders’ activities in their own homes. Should there be any nuisance caused by business use on the Estate the Company would be prepared to enforce the covenants.
6. Applications to make alterations
Applications should be submitted in writing and must include where necessary dimensioned scale plans and elevations along with details of materials, colours etc.. For small works the “Changing things” process on the website should be followed. The application and approval process for larger works is set out in more detail in Annex I.
7. Disposal of properties and shares
A shareholder may only dispose of a property to a buyer who has applied to be a shareholder of PMML. The purchaser is responsible for making an application to be registered by the Company and will then receive the seller’s Share. The shareholder may not part with his or her Share while still retaining an interest in the property. A shareholder may not sell or part with possession of, for example, a garage, forming part of the property.
The Company reserves the right to reject an application to register a new buyer’s share if the seller has done work which is in breach of the covenant.
Trees are not covered by the Covenant, but see annex II
5.14 Obligation to Pay Annual Service Charge or Levy
The Shareholder accepts the obligation to pay on demand from PMML any sums required under the powers conferred on the Directors in the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company.
I don’t think we need these annexes: they should be somewhere tucked away on the website. Below are
Annex I HAM annex dealing with major extensions
Annex II trees
Annex III door colours
Annex IV New technologies: satellite dishes, solar panels, electric cars
Areas which could be included are for example ball games , satellite dishes, parking on front gardens, plastic grass, cycling on paths, dogs on leads , and solar panels. I'm sure we can all think of our own!
I've temporarily pasted in the draft guide below