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The Educated Buyer: Restrictive Covenants

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A restrictive covenant is a limitation placed on the use of a property and is registered on title for that property. Restrictive covenants run with the land which means that a sale of a property does not nullify them. In rural subdivisions, restrictive covenants are often put in place by a developer to preserve common standards or a uniform look for a neighbourhood. When a property owner sells a plot of land, restrictive covenants may be used to prevent their new neighbour from activities that are noisy or unsightly.

Examples of Restrictive Covenants:

  • Parking large vehicles or equipment such as RV’s or transport trucks
  • Building fences in a particular location, above a certain height and/or restricting the use of certain building material (e.g., chain link)
  • Shops, sheds or other outbuildings: restrictions on size, location and/or building material
  • Running a business from the property may not be permitted to maintain quiet and reduce traffic in the neighbourhood
  • Placing signs: restrictions on size and location
  • Subdividing restrictions
  • Lighting restrictions to ensure security lights or other lighting doesn’t impact neighbouring properties
  • Landscaping requirements to ensure owners mow their grass and present a neat and attractive appearance
  • Noise restrictions during certain hours. Noise from barking dogs can be prohibited

Although restrictive covenants may seem like an unwelcome infringement on your rights as a landowner, in the absence of city bylaw jurisdiction, they are often a necessary component of rural properties to ensure standards of care for a neighbourhood.

If you intend to make any changes to the use of a property, a title search should always be conducted before finalizing an offer. If restrictive covenants aren’t discovered until closing, and that restrictive covenant is currently being adhered to, its discovery is not grounds to repeal an agreement.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Feel free to get in touch with me if you are looking for a real estate agent, I would love to work with you!