Home Buyer’s Should Find Out About Restrictive Covenants
By Sadiya Anjum
You buy a great property with a huge backyard where you are thinking of constructing a swimming pool. You call the contractor and the work begins. Imagine your shock when the Homeowner’s Association sends you a notice asking you to stop the construction since it is not allowed. Perhaps it is the restrictive covenants that you forgot to read before you purchased the property.
Restrictive covenants are basically deed restrictions that are placed on a particular development or subdivision including a group of homes or lots. Restrictive covenants dictate what can or cannot be done to or on the property. Their basic aim is to give the homes a standard appearance and prevent the value of the property from declining.
Restrictive covenants can include several points. They may relate to the size of the property, the placement of the property with respect to the street, authority for easements, color schemes for the exterior, fences, etc. Some may even include minor details like installing solar panels, window treatments, height of grass, cutting of trees, placement of boats or non-running vehicles on the property, the number or kind of pets, unchained pets etc. Restrictions vary from each development to another.
A point to note is that restrictive covenants are not zoning regulations even though some restrictions may overlap. Local authorities do not have the right to enforce restrictive covenants on homeowners. It is up to the homeowner’s association or other similar committee to enforce these regulations. When a violation occurs, the owner is likely to be served with a notice. Failure to respond to such a notice may result in legal action.
When you find a home that you may be interested to buy, it is wise to ask the owner or agent to provide you with the restrictive covenants. If there is such a deed, it will help you see the various restrictions placed with regard to the property. If the restrictions seem too severe to live with then you may consider finding other properties.
Obtain this deed before making an offer. If this is not possible immediately, then consider adding a contingency clause to your agreement allowing you to withdraw your offer if you do not agree to the restrictive covenants.
Make sure that you do ask for and read the deed restrictions, if any. You definitely do not want to stop work on your swimming pool and have your dreams come crashing down.
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