Can You Remove Deed Restrictions?

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Property owners employ numerous tools to protect the value of their land and homes, and this includes implementing deed restrictions, which are rules attached to the property's title that limits what can be done to it. Deed restrictions are often outdated, but changing or removing them can be difficult. Here's what you need to know.

The Governing Body May Be Uncooperative

Deed restrictions are managed by a governing body, which is typically an independent organization of some kind. Homeowners associations are the most common ones, but property developers, local governments, and neighborhood groups can also serve as the source of authority and enforcement for these type of rules.

The governing body for a set of deed restrictions is usually listed on the covenant or contract detailing the rules. You can obtain it by filing a request at your local courthouse or asking your title company to locate it for you. The contract will also sometimes have instructions on how to get the restrictions removed, but in most cases, you'll have to contact the governing body for this information.

Unfortunately, the governing body may be reluctant to change or eliminate the restrictions, and they may even be hostile to the idea. Remember, these restrictions were put in place to protect the property's value, and the governing body may be unwilling to let go of the rules if they think doing so will lessen the worth of the land or home.

In this case, it may be necessary to force their hand. For instance, if you can prove the deed restriction is discriminatory in some way, the governing body may be required to drop the rule to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws.

Your best bet is to contact a real estate attorney for help dealing stubborn organizations. The lawyer can negotiate on your behalf or find other ways around the roadblocks.

You Might Have to Change Laws

As mentioned previously, the local, state, and even federal government can serve as the governing body for deed restrictions. This can be problematic, because the restrictions may be backed up by the law.

For instance, your local government may prohibit cutting down the trees in your backyard due to existing environmental and conservation laws. Removing the restriction would involved either petitioning for an exception or changing the laws altogether.

It's not impossible to get deed restriction based on laws overturned, but the process may be long and time-consuming. You'll definitely want a real estate agent helping you, because navigating the legal system can be challenging, and you'll need someone who can interpret the legalese as well as submit the right forms to the right people who can help you get what you want.

For assistance with your deed restrictions or other property issues, contact a local real estate attorney.