Can a Restrictive Covenant prevent me from using my property any way I want?
August 1, 2019
It depends on the kind of restrictive covenant but, yes, you could be prevented from using your property however you see fit. For example, building certain types of fences, adding a satellite dish or parking vehicles in your front yard or more than a couple cars in your driveway could all be prevented by a restrictive covenant. A restrictive covenant is an agreement that acts as a limit or prohibition of certain uses of real estate. For instance, restrictive covenants for a residential subdivision may limit the use of the real estate in a subdivision to exclusively residential use. Some restrictive covenants may define the maximum and minimum square footage of homes that may be built or may set forth further limitations regarding construction of other buildings upon the premises.
Restrictive covenants must be in writing and must be signed to be enforceable. To be effective against subsequent purchasers, restrictive covenants must be recorded. Typically, restrictive covenants run with the land, meaning that they will continue to apply to the real estate property even after the original owner at the time of execution of the restrictive covenant transfers it to another person. Therefore, if property is purchased that has restrictive covenants, the buyer may be subject to those restrictions.
Most states do have limitations as to the length of time the restrictive covenants may run. These limitations may be found in statutes, sometimes referred to as stale use acts. To be enforceable, restrictive covenants must be clear-cut and explicit. Courts will often refuse to enforce restrictive covenants that are vague or ambiguous. Please see specific state for details and/or differences.
NOTICE: Restrictive covenants prohibiting sales of real estate to minorities have been declared unconstitutional and unenforceable.