Adventures in Real Estate - Covenants?

Thinking of buying a lot?  How about a recently constructed home? Do you know if there any "Covenants" attached to the property?  You should know because "Covenants" can restrict your "quiet enjoyment" of your new home and put you in serious conflict with your neighbours. 

What are Covenants?  Simply put Covenants are rules that are attached to your Deed about what you must or must not do while you own this property.  Typically these rules speak to issues like size, height, placement  of buildings but can also cover things like what you can park or not park in your driveway,  how high and what kind of trees and shrubs you plant and whether you can erect simple household items like a clothes line or tent on your property. 

Who is affected by Covenants? You can expect that you as the land owner and any other land owner that has purchased property in the same development will be covered by the same or similar covenants.  Covenants also attach themselves to the lot so that when you sell your home those rules and restrictions pass on to the new owners

Why are Covenants in place?  Most commonly developers put covenants in place when they are subdividing a property  for sale into smaller lots, the developer can then say that there are protections in place to safeguard the value in your purchase, however they can be put in place on any land sale if there is agreement on both sides.

How do I deal with Covenants?  Your solictor (lawyer) is the person to go to when dealing with covenants.  If you are not aware of any covenants on the property they should come to light at your lawyers office when you go to complete your purchase.  Its a question you should ask directly but a good lawyer would point out any such matters that might affect your title or enjoyment to a property.  In order to have a Covenant removed you must get the agreement of all parties to the Covenants, in the case of a large subdivision that could be dozens of other home owners.  Enforcing a Covenant is a legal matter and should be taken up with the developer (he may have an on-going legal responsibility to enforce) or your lawyer.

Covenants are quite common these days, your Real Estate agent should be fully briefed on the existence of any Covenants, particularly if it is a large sub-division development attached to your property, but Covenants are a legal matter so always ask your lawyer if there is anything that may affect or limit your ownership of your new home.

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