Land obligations: the benefit and burden principle

By Chris Dolan and Cara Beveridge

As a general rule, positive obligations relating to land do not run with it — essentially they do not bind future owners of it.

A limited exception to this rule is that a person cannot enjoy a benefit without accepting a burden that goes with it and for this to apply the benefit and the burden must be relevant to each other.

The case that established this was Halsall v Brizell, decided in 1957. It concerned an obligation to contribute towards the cost of maintaining a roadway over which rights of way were granted. The court said that the obligation to pay for its upkeep was unenforceable, but that the successor in title to the original owner was not entitled to exercise the right of way if it did not also undertake the obligation to pay for the upkeep of the road. The exercise of the right was conditional on compliance with the positive obligation…

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