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Deed Restrictions Can Ruin Your Dream Home

Deed Restrictions Can Ruin Your Dream Home

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Deed restrictions can have a big impact on purchasing or building a new home, selling an existing home, renovations, and even how a property is used. Since deed restrictions are attached to the land, they can continue to cause problems for both current and future owners of a property for many years.

What is a Deed Restriction?

Deed restrictions, or restrictive covenants, are provisions in a property deed that place limits on the use of the property and/or building on the property. Such restrictions are tied to the land, rather than the building, so they can impact original property owners, as well as all future owners of a property. Original deed restrictions placed on properties can date back hundreds of years, but remain hidden. Typically, deed restrictions are discovered during title searches when a thorough examination of a property deed by a realtor lawyer reveals them. Many title companies don’t include deed restrictions in their reports to potential buyers.

Property developers, home builders, and Homeowners’ Associations (HOA) often put deed restrictions on properties to enforce uniform building standards, protect property views, and maintain a consistent appearance within a real estate development community. Common deed restrictions include:

  • Maximum building height and width of a home
  • Type of fencing and fence height allowed on the property
  • Construction materials, building style, and paint colors allowed
  • Guidelines and restrictions on outdoor structures
  • Type and number of vehicles allowed
  • Business use of a residential property

Some properties have deed restrictions that ban or limit the removal of trees. These restrictions are often placed to preserve tree-lined streets in suburban neighborhoods or an environmentally friendly atmosphere within a community. Occasionally, these types of deed restrictions are found on rural land and date back hundreds of years when the land was completely undeveloped or used as orchards or farmland. They may even mention restrictions on specific animals allowed on the property.

Can Deed Restrictions be Changed?

Although changing or modifying deed restrictions is sometimes difficult, it can be done. Some deed restrictions have expiration dates or contain provisions for making changes. A realtor lawyer can obtain a copy of the restrictive covenants at the county courthouse to look for guidelines on modifications and changes. If the deed restriction is placed by a Homeowners’ Association, the association may grant special permission for changes that don’t have a significant impact on the neighborhood.

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