DEED RESTRICTIONS: Definition & How to Identify Deed Restrictions On A Property

DEED RESTRICTIONS
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As a real estate attorney, I’m frequently approached by clients who are concerned about deed limitations when purchasing a new home. They want to know what deed restrictions (also known as covenants and restrictions) are and whether they may be removed or changed. These are excellent questions to ask prior to closing, as it’s always a good idea to be aware of any restrictions on the property you’re considering buying before closing. Fixing an issue after you’ve closed on a transaction is usually considerably more expensive and time-consuming than preventing it in the first place. Read further to figure out the examples of deed restrictions, and remove them.

What Are Deed Restrictions?

Deed restrictions are written agreements that limit the use of a specific piece of land by its owners. Deed restrictions are, in their most basic form, exactly what they sound like: legally enforceable limits that the landowner must follow. Traditionally, common deed limitations have been set in place to prevent homeowners from doing things like painting their homes a contentious color or obstructing a neighbor’s view with an unpleasant home addition from jeopardizing the value of the community’s properties. Deed restrictions, on the other hand, keep everyone on the same page at their apex. Deed limitations, when properly applied, are useful instruments for protecting house values in residential districts and limiting undesired enterprises in commercial zones.

10 Common Examples of Deed Restrictions You Should Know

The original underwriters can set examples of deed restrictions as selective or as many as they choose. In other words, agreements can result in a deed being restricted in any number of ways—or none at all. Nonetheless, there are a number of deed restrictions examples that are more widespread than their counterparts. The following list includes not only some of the most common examples but also the most significant deed restrictions that everyone should be aware of: 

  • Number Of Bedrooms
  • Pet & Animal Restrictions
  • Vehicle Restrictions
  • Obstructing A Neighbor’s View
  • Types Of Fencing
  • Home-Run Business Restrictions
  • Color Palettes
  • Adjacent Structures
  • Approval Plans
  • Tree Removal

This isn’t a full list of all the examples of deed restrictions; rather, it’s a list of the most relevant ones that buyers should be aware of before signing a contract. Let’s take a closer look at each of the deed restrictions examples and how it affects ownership. 

#1. Number Of Bedrooms

Some deed limitations are more widespread in some parts of the country than others. Set a stringent limit on the number of bedrooms a residential residence can have. While the restriction may appear to be an impediment to potential buyers at first, it was most likely to have the homeowners’ best interests in mind. Restrictions on the number of rooms a property can have, in particular, can help to preserve local housing prices. If nothing else, room constraints are in place to ensure that houses within a particular community are of similar size, preventing “bigger” homes from driving down the values of their smaller neighbors. Occasionally, room restrictions are to comply with sewer or septic capacity guidelines.

#2. Pet & Animal Restrictions

Some of the most common restrictive covenants buyers are unaware of are those involving pets and animals. Pet and animal limits, on the other hand, are well-titled since they restrict the types of pets and animals that can lawfully be kept on a property. Unsurprisingly, the limitations are in place to protect house values by ensuring that pets and animals are not in the neighborhood. Pet and animal restrictions, for example, are frequent in residential areas, preventing people from possessing livestock such as hens, goats, and pigs. Limiting noisy or smelly animals in residential areas reduces the possibility of property value depreciation. Also, improves community peace of mind. It’s worth noting that these limits could also apply to specific animal breeds. While most neighborhoods allow dogs, some breeds may be by deed.

#3. Vehicle Restrictions

Vehicle restrictions are one of the most prevalent restrictions on homeowners’ deeds. This deed limitation is in place to keep a single residence from crowding a street with too many vehicles and creating unsightly eyesores. If the presence of too many unwanted vehicles becomes too much of a nuisance, it might lower a neighborhood’s assessments. As a result, most residences are only to park a specific number of automobiles in their driveways or along the neighboring curbs.

#4. Obstructing A Neighbor’s View

Many real estate transactions now include a deed restriction that prohibits homeowners from obscuring the sight of their neighbors. This particular restriction stops landowners from erecting any undesired constructions that may damage the views of anyone in the community. Aside from serving as a common courtesy and a respectful nod to the neighbors. At the same time, this deed limitation protects house values by ensuring that neighbors do not construct any unwelcome modifications that would upset their neighbors.

#5. Types Of Fencing

The majority of examples of deed restrictions will specify which walls and fences are appropriate for a certain community. Some restrictions will even bar homeowners from erecting chain link fences or particularly tall privacy fences in order to preserve property values. In addition to the types of fences, there may be restrictions on the height of those fences. Most front-yard fences, for example, are three to four feet in height. Backyard fences, on the other hand, are often six feet in height.

6. Home-Run Business Restrictions

Owners of a deed-restricted home may be unable to operate any type of company on the property. While it may appear to be unjust, common deed limitations like this are put in place to keep the community in order. If the business requires a lot of foot traffic or deliveries, it’s probable that the home will produce unnecessary traffic and disturb the next-door neighbors. Furthermore, some neighbors may object to the business, thus several communities have agreed to keep their streets free of all businesses.

#7. Color Palettes

The color of a home’s exterior is one of the most common deed restrictions across the country. Owners, for example, are limited to using a pre-approved color pallet when painting their properties. This is yet another restriction put in place to maintain uniformity and prevent anyone from detracting from an area’s curb appeal. However, the color palettes available to homeowners aren’t to paint. In many circumstances, homeowners will be required to paint their homes in a pre-determined color scheme. But there may also be requirements that the home has a specific finish, such as stone or brick. Color palette constraints can be very specific, and it’s to a homeowner’s best advantage to follow them.

#8. Adjacent Structures

Many deed limitations have been placed on adjacent structures, such as sheds or detached garages. While the majority of homeowners will find them convenient and useful, their neighbors may not. At the absolute least, it’s simple for a new structure to become an eyesore for nearby residents. As a result, numerous deed limitations prevent landowners from erecting a new structure on their property.

#9. Approval Plans

Some builders, developers, and HOAs will incorporate themselves in later deed limitations so that they can have a say in future property designs. For example, an HOA seeking to maintain consistency in a neighborhood can require approval of any future renovations or additions to a home. Builders, developers, and HOAs can set tight criteria for homeowners by restricting their capacity to remodel their homes in any way. In many circumstances, everything—from the changes done to the materials used—will require owner approval.

#10. Tree Removal

The deed restrictions will range from a stringent no-removal rule to a limit on the number of trees that can be removed or changed. Some regulations will require homeowners to keep a particular amount of trees on their property in order to keep the neighborhood looking uniform.

Deed Restrictions Vs. Zoning Ordinances

Deed limitations are not the same as local zoning rules, despite their similarity. While the final goal of both is to maintain the homogeneity and status quo of a specific area. The methods used to get there are vastly different. Unlike deed restrictions, which are typical to preserve a single interest in a neighborhood. Zoning rules have an impact on the entire community.

Zoning regulations, in particular, are adopted by each municipality and serve as the framework for how the entire town is set out and operated. Any attempt to amend a zoning regulation will also necessitate a vote by the local planning board. Any property owner can file a request to amend the zoning ordinance. But they must show that the change will benefit the community and that it will be by a vote.

How To Identify Deed Restrictions On A Property

Deed limitations can have a significant impact on homeownership, so potential purchasers should understand what they’re getting into before signing a contract. Fortunately, there are several techniques to determine whether the subject property has any existing constraints that the buyer should be aware of: 

#1. An Agent Or Realtor

A knowledgeable real estate agent or realtor may be able to establish if there are any current restrictions on the property by looking at past listings. If the listings don’t include any deed limitations, agents.

#2. Talk To The Title Company

Any deed restrictions associated with a property will always be revealed during a title search. As a result, before making the purchase, check with the title company to see if there are any restrictions to follow.

#3. Set Up An Appointment With The HOA

If the house is part of an HOA, speaking with the group in charge of the limitations will reveal any deed restrictions worth knowing about.

#4. Speak To The Municipal Clerk

Public property records are at the offices of local government employees. For example, municipal clerks and urban planning agencies may have the information you need.

Deed Restrictions On Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate, like residential homes, will use deed limitations to preserve uniformity and safeguard property values. Commercial real estate limitations, on the other hand, tend to be less specific in commercial areas in order to have a greater influence. Also, commercial deed limitations, on the other hand, are frequently at preserving a competitive advantage. A commercial deed limitation is commonly to prohibit competing firms from relocating into the same complex. The goal is to safeguard businesses and make them feel more at ease when signing a commercial lease.

How Can Deed Restrictions Be Changed or Removed?

When it comes to the question of how deed restrictions can be changed or removed, It is possible to lift a deed restriction, but it is not straightforward. Indeed, removing a deed restriction can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. To begin, everybody affected by the present limitation must agree to have it lifted. Whether or not they gain from the restriction will determine whether or not they agree to remove it. Those who gain from it will, of course, be more difficult to persuade than those who do not.

A court order can also lift the prohibition in certain instances. A judge can overturn illegal, discriminatory, or ineffective deed restrictions if he or she believes them to be unfair. A judge isn’t always required; the person who imposed the restriction can have it lifted if they no longer agree with it.

How to Remove Deed Restrictions

Deed restrictions can be removed or changed but, removing deed restrictions necessitates addressing both the contractual and public record aspects of the restrictions. They are as follows.

 #1. Identifying Relevant Parties

You’ll need to figure out who has the authority to enforce the deed restrictions against you. If a deed restriction mandates adherence to subdivision rules and regulations. You’ll almost certainly need authorization from the homeowners association or individual homeowners in your community.

#2. Negotiating A Release of Restrictions Deed

Before you can truly say that you have removed or changed the deed restrictions, you’ll need to get permission from anyone who has the authority to enforce them. If your deed limitation affects or benefits one or more of your neighbors. For example, you’ll need their approval before you can remove it. You’ll also need to draft a release of restrictions agreement that spells out the restrictions. Includes language that frees the property from them. The release agreement must be by everyone who has the authority to enforce the deed limitations.

#3. Recording the Release

You’ll need to record a copy of the release agreement in the local county land records office after you’ve collected signatures on it. According to state recording laws, you must include a legal description of your property in the agreement. In most places, a notary is also to verify or acknowledge each of the signatures on the agreement.

#4. Obtaining a Judgment

If you are unable to gain approval from all of the people who have the authority to enforce the deed limitations. Your only other choice is to file a lawsuit to have the restrictions lifted from your property. Of course, in order for a judge to give such a judgment, you must show that you have a legal basis for removing the deed restrictions because they can be removed or changed. In general, if the deed restrictions are no longer applicable, discriminatory, or if you have met your deed restriction responsibilities. You may be able to get a decision releasing the restrictions from your deed.

Conclusion

On the surface, deed restrictions appear to be nothing more than a set of legally binding guidelines that homeowners must follow. However, a closer examination of their true function reveals a desire to maintain both uniformity and home values in the areas they oversee. Due to deed limitations, homeowners in a neighborhood can rest confident that their neighbors’ ill-advised acts will not depreciate the value of their own houses. It’s important to remember, though, that not all deed limitations are equal. Before deciding to close on a new house, prospective buyers should understand what they are getting into.

FAQs

How do you research deed restrictions?

Because most states require the seller to disclose any deed limitations, you will almost always be aware of them prior to making an offer. However, as previously stated, it’s never a bad idea to double-check any limits with your real estate agent or local authorities.

Who enforces a deed restriction?

An HOA is usually in charge of enforcing deed restrictions. In most cases, only the person or entity who imposed the restriction has the authority to enforce it.

What does it mean if there is no HOA?

The term “HOA” refers to a homeowner’s association. If a house listing’s description states “no HOA,” it’s likely not part of an HOA and hence not subject to HOA rules or fees.

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