The Legality of Restrictive Covenants

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Many who buy a home believe that they are able to whatever they feel is necessary to the house or land. If they want to alter the land and create a garden, install equipment or build additional structures, they feel they are able to do so after the property has been purchased. However, there are numerous contracts that prevent these actions.

If there is a restrictive covenant in effect in the agreement that was signed, the homeowner is not able to do just whatever he or she wants to the land or house. These documents are drafted with specific language in the deed papers or through additional files that specify certain actions for the deed. They have working of running with the land so that anyone that owns the property is affected by the terms.

The purpose of a restrictive covenant is to limit the ability to freely use the property by someone that owns it. These may be placed on deeds by municipalities, land developers and even homeowner’s associations when certain actions are not wanted in a neighborhood or community. It is possible for a private citizen to also impose these restrictions when entering into these contracts so that imposed limitations affect the new owner. The primary reason for these stipulations is to keep the location in order in regard to certain actions such as cleanliness and appearance. The other goal is to increase the property values as much as possible for the entire area.

Community Association

There is a percentage of homeowners that believe that community association has rules that only lower property values based on the regulations implemented. However, most of those included in these organizations are happy and at peace with ensuring the rules are followed. Restrictive covenants may be used as a design to maintain the character of developing land and communities. This may prevent residents from various alterations to the homes in regard to size, appearance and the trees and brush around them. Because being part of a community requires adherence to these regulations, each person must follow the rules. However, homeowners are able to change some of these when they are in good standing with the Housing association.

Due Diligence Before Purchase

There are a variety of sources where restrictions come from on what may be done to the property. This could be the developer when the property is a condo or some building still being constructed. The list of detailed restrictions is provided before the sale in most circumstances so the buyer is aware of these conditions before he or she moves into the home. The title committeemen document is another source of finding the limitations through a restrictive covenant when purchasing a house. The title company usually has these details noted for any limitations that apply to the land or structure that is purchased. A local county deed recorder may supply this information if a title insurance policy is not obtained when the property has been bought. Any applicable restrictive covenants are placed on the face of a property deed as a public record available to anyone. For any additional assistance, a real estate lawyer should be contacted.

Restrictive Covenant Examples

The terms of a restrictive covenant are usually detailed and obvious. This is usually for home bought within certain communities. A covenant affects how high, where and what manner of construction may be accomplished for certain portions of the property. Some require a permit for painting or for decorations. Pets and certain other stipulations such as running a home business may be restricted. Altering the landscape is often limited. Other exclusions may be through adding fences, multiple or large vehicles and materials such as window treatments or solar panels.

Violations and Legal Assistance to Restrictive Covenants

When a homeowner violates a restrictive covenant, the consequences may be as minor as a fine or as severe as suspension of rights on the property. It is imperative that these terms and clauses are fully understood before the homeowner finalizes the purchase of the house or land. To accomplish this, a real estate lawyer should be hired to analyze the wording and how it applies to the purchase. These legal professionals have the knowledge and understanding of how local and state restrictions for both the title and laws affect these terms. Restrictive covenants must be examined thoroughly by a real estate lawyer to ensure what the homeowner wants to do may be done so after he or she buys the property.

Can Your Landlord throw You Out Without Notice?


James is a sound engineer, working with a prominent oil and gas servicing company in Lagos.  He lives in a rented 2- bedroom apartment in the Lekki environs with his wife and  younger brother. By all accounts he is an upwardly mobile young man with lots of prospects.

Disaster struck in  December 2016,  James lost his job due to rationalizations at his company, arising from the national recession. Having been sacked, James found it difficult to pay his bills, including his house rent on time as he was used to doing. After making several demands for the rent for close to 6 months , the landlord came with some thugs and forcibly evicted James  and his family from the flat, throwing his property into the street and locking the door. James came to his lawyers for advice on how to deal with the actions of his landlord.

The law is clear on the rights of a landlord and a tenant, especially with respect to the termination of the tenancy and the recovery of possession of the premises by the landlord. In the absence of any clause in the tenancy agreement stating otherwise, the landlord is expected to give the tenant adequate notice to quit and deliver up the premises. This general rule is that a yearly tenant should receive at least 6 months notice, a quarterly and semi-annual tenant is entitled to 3 months notice, while a monthly tenant is entitled to 1 month notice. Failure to issue and serve the proper notice to the tenant renders the notice invalid.  The notice should be given before the termination of the existing tenancy, as an additional day’s delay creates a fresh tenancy.

If the tenant still refuses to vacate the premises after the expiration of the quit notice, the next step to take  is to serve the tenant with a 7 day Notice of owners intention to apply to recover possession. After this expires, the landlord may then sue the tenant and after the magistrate has heard the matter, the court may make an order evicting the tenant if it is proven that he has breached any of the covenants or is in arrears of rent.

The effect of the forcible and unlawful eviction of James is as follows:

  1. The landlord committed a crime by forcibly evicting James
  2. The landlord is in breach of the tenant’s right to quiet possession and enjoyment of the premises.
  3. The landlord may be liable for assault if himself or any of the thugs assaults James in the process of forcibly removing him from the premises.

These breaches may render the landlord civilly and criminally liable. Consequently, it is essential to follow due process in the termination of tenancies.