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Why You Need to Know About Deed Restrictions

November 13 2018
by Leisl Bailey

Illustration of someone signing a deed

You go through the buying process, sign all the papers, dot all your i’s and cross your t’s, so you’re done, right? Not so fast. There are still some restrictions to be aware of: deed restrictions.

What are deed restrictions?

Deed restrictions are a set of rules and regulations that govern your new home and the land underneath it. These restrictions are usually recorded in the property’s deed, hence their name.

There are many different people who can add deed restrictions to a property: a homeowners’ or condo association, a previous owner, the builder, or the local government.

No matter who put the restrictions in place, it is important to remember three things:

  1. Deed restrictions are a restrictive covenant.
  2. They are usually permanent.
  3. They are typically not up for negotiation or debate.

Do deed restrictions expire?

Deed restrictions are almost impossible to get rid of.

This is because when you own a piece of land, you technically have the right to sell as much or as little of it as you want to. This means that you could sell your entire property, except for square foot of the front yard on which sits a statue of Julius Caesar. Or you could sell the entire lot, but refuse to grant the future owners the deed until they agree that Julius can stay.

That’s the thing about deed restrictions.

In order to get a deed to a property, you have to agree to any restrictions the current owner places on it. And when you sell the property, you’re only selling the rights you have to it. Which means that well after you leave, good ol’ Julius could still be there. This is because restrictions “run with the land” until they expire.

However, some states do have laws that allow property owners to ignore unreasonable restrictions. For it to work, the owner of the land must prove the restriction is unreasonable. If a restriction violates the law, it is also voided. A good example of this would be any racially motived restrictions put into place during Jim Crow.

Common Types of Deed Restrictions

It does not matter where a property is located in the US, as the types of real estate deed restrictions tend to be the same. They usually pertain to storing things on your property and running a business from your home.

The first thing would be things like you’re not allowed to park an RV in your driveway or store a boat in the backyard. The second would be disallowing the use of your home for any commercial purposes, even marketing your home as a rental on popular home share sites.

Before you purchase a home, be sure to run a title search. This way, you can be aware of all of the attached deed restrictions before you purchase the property.

Who enforces deed restrictions?

Deed restrictions are not the same as regular HOA rules. For example, a homeowners association can decide that no one can paint their house blue. But if enough people complain, the rules can be easily changed. Not so with deed restrictions as they are a legal stipulation.

However, neighbors and homeowners associations typically only pursue these legal stipulations. So while you might visit the county clerk’s office to obtain the history of a certain property, the clerk isn’t going to take you to court over it.

A small caveat: there are such things are deed-restricted communities. These communities have a homeowner association with rules and regulations pertaining to the use of land and the look of the neighborhood. The neighborhood’s developer usually initiates these rules.

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Ready to buy a new home? The team at Clever is here for you! Our qualified agents know all about deed restrictions and can answer all of your questions along the way. Call us today at 1-833-2-CLEVER or fill out our online form to get started.