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Protecting our precious places

Buying covenanted land

A bush remnant covenantIf you are looking at buying land with a QEII Open Space Covenant on the title then you are about to buy your own piece of special New Zealand heritage as well...

What is a QEII Open Space Covenant?

A QEII Open Space Covenant (covenant) is a legal agreement between a landowner and the QEII National Trust. It is established under the powers of QEII National Trust Act 1977 and sets out the exact location of the protected area, what is being protected and why, what can and can’t be done on the land, and the landowner’s and QEII’s responsibilities. The agreement is entered into voluntarily and once signed and registered on the title to the land binds current and all subsequent landowners forever.

The covenant cannot be rescinded or removed from the title. Appropriate variations to it can be negotiated with the Trust.

Property rights

When you buy covenanted land, you become an honorary covenantor, inheriting guardianship of the special protected area. Private property rights are not jeopardised by a covenant - the landowner retains ownership and management of the land. However, because the covenant is protecting special values on the property, the agreement does limit what can be done in the protected area. You will need to get the Trust’s consent to materially alter the actual appearance or condition of the covenanted land.

Conditions

A covenant can apply to the whole property or just part of it and there can be different management areas within a covenant with varying conditions in place. It all depends on the features of the area being protected. The details of terms and conditions for a covenant are agreed between the landowner and QEII and set out in the covenant agreement. 

You should always consult your lawyer before purchasing a property with a covenant to be clear about the terms and conditions.

A covenant often has the following conditions in place:

  • Nothing may be done to materially alter the actual appearance or condition of the covenanted land.
  • Actions for the benefit of the protected land/site can be done by mutual agreement.
  • The Trust will provide technical advice or assistance to help owners meet the purpose and objectives of the covenant agreement.
  • The Trust will monitor the covenanted land. 
  • If notified by a third party of intentions to erect any structure or carry out any work on the land, prior permission to proceed must be sought from the Trust.
  • Fences and gates have to be kept in good condition around the covenanted area and livestock kept out.

Certain activities within covenanted areas are considered offences under the Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust Act 1977. View the Act here.

Your relationship with the Trust

QEII National Trust and the landowner share a mutual interest to protect the covenant. QEII is the perpetual trustee and its job is to ensure the covenant’s values are protected forever.

QEII representatives visit each covenant every second year to monitor its condition. The visit is a valuable opportunity to meet with the landowner, share pleasure in observing positive change, discuss any concerns and work out together the best way to manage the covenant. The representative can also advise on a covenantor’s eligibility for any funding support and help with applications.

Covenant owners are responsible for managing their covenant. This includes pest and weed control work, keeping fences in good condition and keeping stock out of covenanted areas (unless an exception to this condition has been agreed).

Covenant owners can contact their representative at any time with questions about their covenant.

 

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