Property Law and childminders

One of the first things to do when considering starting a childcare business from home is to check your rental agreement, or the property’s deeds. You may find there are restrictions in place that require some attention before you can legally run a business from home.

There may also be restrictions in place around whether or not you can extend your existing property, if the purpose of this extension is to support your business.

Home owners

Restrictive covenants

A restrictive covenant is an agreement in a deed that one party will restrict the use of its land in some way for the benefit of another's land.

A restrictive covenant may be enforceable by one party's successors in title against the other's successors in title, as well as between the original contracting parties.

Restrictive covenants aren’t just for new builds, they can be placed on older properties too and the age of the covenant doesn’t necessarily affect its validity. A restrictive covenant can prevent trades or businesses from operating on the land, including childminding or childcare on domestic premises.

There are options available to you if your property includes a restrictive covenant that would prevent you from childminding, however none of these guarantee success, and we would recommend you speak to a specialist property Solicitor in the first instance;

  • It is important to find out who has the ‘benefit’ of the covenant.  It is possible for all parties involved to agree to have the covenant removed by way of a ‘Deed of Release of Restrictive Covenant’.
  • If you are buying a new build, it may be possible to speak to the vendor or ‘successor in title’ with a view to removing the restrictive covenant.
  • In the situation whereby a restrictive covenant is in place, but the beneficiary is unknown, it cannot be enforced, or it is simply unreasonable, it may be possible to request permission to have the restriction removed or modified, by applying to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). Section 84 of the Law of Property Act 1925 states the Lands Chamber has the legal discretion to discharge or modify most restrictive covenants affecting land but not all.

Extending your home

If you are looking to extend your home beyond permitted development, you may want to speak to your local planning team to ensure your registered childcare business will not negatively impact your planning application. You are more likely to gain approval for any changes whereby;

  • the look of your home doesn't change significantly
  • the business doesn't become the first purpose of the property
  • you don't cause inconvenience to your neighbours.

However, this does vary across local areas, so it is always best to check with your local authority first, and to seek permission from your landlord or mortgage provider, before you start any work.

Rental property

Some rental properties have clauses within the lease stating that a business cannot be run from the premises, which could include childminding or childcare on domestic premises. If your house is rented, you must have written permission from your landlord before you start childminding.

Support for childminders

We have compiled a document which outlines all the information about childminding that you can send to your Landlord, vendor, beneficiary of covenant, local authority or solicitor. Download the document here.

PACEY is aware of the ongoing issues caused by property law, to both existing and potential childminders. If you have had, or are working through an issue, we want to hear from you. Email us on policy@pacey.org.uk.