Covenants and restrictions: What to know before buying land

| May 18, 2021 | Real Estate Law |

If you are in the process of finding the perfect lot of land to build your dream home, you might have looked at a few subdivided lots. This is when a developer purchases a huge tract of land and divides it up into individual parcels that people can purchase to construct a house.

Before you invest in the purchase of one of these lots, however, understand the covenants and restrictions that apply to the land.

Covenants, conditions and restrictions

When a developer has a vision for the community that they want to create out of their subdivided tract of land, they often execute covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). These are sets of rules that govern how purchasers of the lots can use their land. Homeowners’ associations often use and enforce CC&Rs.

CC&Rs can come in different levels of restrictiveness. In cases where houses or condominiums are already built on the subdivided lots, the CC&Rs could govern the types of decorations the owners can put up or specify required standards of lawn care. When CC&Rs apply to undeveloped lots of land, they can restrict the type, size, and appearance of houses that can be built.

CC&Rs are difficult to challenge

Some people purchase land with full knowledge of the CC&Rs that govern its use even though they have plans for the land that are incompatible with the CC&Rs. These people plan on bringing challenges to the CC&Rs to invalidate them or to receive an exception.

Unless the CC&Rs that restrict your land are unconstitutional or otherwise illegal, it is difficult to challenge them. It would be much better to avoid purchasing the land if your intended use does not conform to the rules.

Before you purchase a lot in a subdivision, it is always a good idea to study closely any CC&Rs that apply.