Restrictive Covenants Regulate a Homeowner's Lifestyle

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Yeats & Mike Cromie

Home buyers, especially first-timers, may not think of asking about restrictive covenants. But these clauses dictate what can and cannot be done to or on a property. When buyers purchase property governed by restrictive covenants, they consent to conduct their lives in accordance with those provisions.

A restrictive covenant, which is a type of deed restriction, regulates a group of new and existing homes or building lots. Developers use them to preserve a development or subdivision as a model community.

Buyers agree to the sometimes-rigid restrictions in order to maintain the aesthetic standard set by the developer and to safeguard the value of their homes.

Restrictive covenants should not be confused with local zoning and government regulations. Some covenants and zoning regulations overlap; for instance, either can limit the height of a building. But, restrictive covenants tend to exert greater control over a homeowner's lifestyle.

In addition to standard clauses, which may stipulate a home's minimum size, height, architectural style, and color schemes, covenants often ban practices that could be regarded as aesthetically objectionable - such as parking RVs, boats and nonrunning vehicles on the property.

Covenants may additionally regulate grass height; window treatments; holiday decorations; walls, fences and hedges; as well as pets - some limit number and type of pets allowed).

Depending on a community's location and other unique features, restrictions may be applied to the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers and removal of dirt and trees. …