With the explosion of subdivision and community development in Georgia, covenants—especially restrictive covenants—are an important part of real estate law.
What, Exactly, is a Covenant?
Simply put, a covenant is a promise made by one person to do or not do something, that is enforceable by law.
When it comes to real property, there are generally two major types of covenants:
- covenants for title, and
- covenants that run with the land
A covenant can be something you promise to do (affirmative covenant)—like maintain your property or paint your house regularly, or it can prevent you from doing things with your property (restrictive covenant) —like keeping a pet or building a wall.
Either way, covenants are private agreements (contracts) that are enforceable by law.
Covenants ensure uniformity of appearance of subdivisions and community associations. They also help protect property values.
You will find any covenants applicable to your property recorded in the property deed.
If you buy a home run by a Homeowner’s Association (HOA), the recorded covenants are found in the HOA’s “Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions” (“CC & Rs”). Once you purchase property that is part of an HOA, you will automatically become a member of the HOA and will be legally bound to abide by the CC & Rs.
Subdivision covenants can be recorded either in a deed, or on the subdivision plat, or in an addendum to the subdivision plat. Subdivision covenants are binding on all property owners referenced on the deed or subdivision plat. They are also binding on all subsequent owners for any time period established on the deed or plat relating to the covenants.
Covenants that Run with the Land
Covenants that “run with the land,” bind subsequent owners of the land even though they were not a party to the original agreement.
A covenant that runs with the land directly relates to the use or enjoyment of the land. In other words, the covenant usually is connected to the land in some way, and the land cannot be transferred without the covenant.
For example, a covenant that requires the land to be used only for church purposes restricts the use of the land, and because a new owner would have to use the property only for church purposes, it “runs with the land.”
How Long Do Restrictive Covenants Last?
Georgia originally limited the life of restrictive covenants to 20 years. However, because restrictive covenants have been seen more recently to be of value in that they protect property values, Georgia’s statutory laws currently allow restrictive covenants in subdivisions of fifteen or more lots to expire at the end of 20 years, with automatic renewals available for successive periods of 20 years each.
Understanding covenants is one reason why you should always consult with experienced real property counsel.
Our Experience is Your Advantage.
At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., our clients benefit from our experience. We have extensive experience in real estate law. We have offices in Cumming, and we serve clients in Atlanta, Gainesville, Gwinnett County, Bartow County, Hall County, Henry County, Cherokee County, Clayton County, Cobb County, and other counties throughout Georgia. To find out what we can do for you, call us today at: 770-888-7707. Or you can e-mail us with inquiries at: firstname.lastname@example.org