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Dealing With Restrictive Covenants When Purchasing Property

It’s important to review restrictive covenants on real estate before investing in a home or property. Even when your state’s laws do not restrict what can be done with your home, restrictive covenants that have been created by your homeowners' association may. Potential homeowners assume that when they buy the home, they can then do what they want with it. But in certain situations, you may not be able to paint your house neon green or install solar panels all over the roof even though you feel it’s your right.
This freedom can’t be assumed for all home purchases. This is why it’s a good idea to have a lawyer review your real estate negotiations, which may include restrictive covenants.
In essence, restrictive covenants are agreements limiting how homeowners may use their property. These agreements are considered to “run with the land,” which means they apply to whoever who owns the property at any given time. If you are looking at buying a townhouse, condo, home or other property, always do your homework on restrictive covenants that can impact your ability to use the property in the way you plan to. 

Why Do Restrictive Covenants Exist?

Why would someone try to limit how you can utilize your property and home? Developers, municipalities, and homeowners’ associations usually create and enforce these restrictive covenants.
These entities do this to either boost property values (by preventing residents in planned communities from painting their homes loud colors, for example) or to maintain order throughout the neighborhood (by mandating certain days and methods of putting out the trash, for example).
Restrictive covenants could also be put in place to maintain the character of the development or neighborhood (such as preventing residents from altering their homes’ exterior in a historic district).
Before you invest in that dream home or condominium, the developer or real estate agent will give you a detailed list of these restrictive covenants before closing. You will either have to accept them, or move on and find someplace else to live. 

Examples of Restrictive Covenants

Here are some common restrictions types that you as a buyer may come across:

  • Keeping sight lines for neighboring properties
  • Need to obtain approval to re-paint a home in a different color, for example, or requirements of repainting on a regular schedule
  • What kinds of holiday decorations you can display, and when
  • How many pets are allowed and what kinds
  • Prohibiting the operation of an in-home business
  • Guidelines for landscaping or tree-cutting
  • Limits on fencing
  • Approved locations of RVs and boats on property
  • Materials that can be utilized for window treatments
  • Guidelines on installation of solar panels, swimming pools or patios
  • Maintenance of the home’s minimum size, color, architectural style, or height

Contact Sayer, Regan & Thayer LLP

To learn more about restrictive covenants when purchasing property and how our attorneys can help, contact us toll free at 866-378-5836 or 401-324-9915 for a free consultation.


These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

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