I thought it was legal but...


11 Years
Sep 14, 2008
So I thought it was ok for me to have chickens and small livestock this whole time... Come to find out today that there is apparently a covenance in this "development" which basically reads like an association without the fees with everything from the color of your sheds to the type of fence up to only being allowed 1 dog and 2 cats! (I'm not exaggerating. I should note that this neighborhood consists of 3 acre lots and is out in the country and the county says it's zoned agricultural.)
We specifically asked our realtor when we looked at this place and she said that there was no restrictions on this property. I even called the county before I got chickens and asked and they said there was nothing other than no LARGE livestock on less than 5 acres, but I guess I didn't dig deep enough or talk to the "right" person at the court house. Now this isn't a problem unless someone complains is what one of our neighbors said, but one neighbor out of 8 others is a jerk and I can see him turning us ALL in for animal, shed color and pet violations. All this on top of we just built a new shed for a couple of goats that I'm getting in August!
So we're going to be illegal. I'm dispatching my last 2 roos, one I'm rather fond of, just to not draw any more attention to our activities than necessary. I'm keeping the hens and still plan to get the goats, by then we'll have a privacy fence up that hopefully will deter any trouble.

That being said, is there any way to get a covenance changed?
that sounds just crazy! For crying out loud, you live on 3 acres!! why would there be any problem with your chickens? Like you said, you will have a privacy fence up shortly, that should keep the nosy neighbors out of your business for the most part. Best of luck, please keep us posted.
When you bought your house, you should have been given a copy of your neighborhood's covenants. Do you have anything in writing? If you can go back to the courthouse, and find where it says zoned agricultural, and no restrictions, then you should be ok. Also, if the covenants were changed after you moved there, you should be ok.

Also, you can always apply for a variance. Or...just wait til you are busted, THEN file the variance.

Good luck!

What are you doing with the rooster? That really sucks. I just rehomed 3 roosters because the neighbor started complaining of the noise because I have 9 of them. They're alot quieter now.
GET THAT FENCE UP ASAP~~and since I am a realtor, call yours back and ask her research it again for you . . .someone goofed somewhere, and while she only knows what she is told, she might have better luck asking questions without raising any questions, if you know what I mean.
I can't see where 3 acres would cause anyone any grief, my gosh, put them in a certain area of that acreage and most people wouldn't even know they were there. Keep them away from the one in eight jerk, and smile and wave alot.
Sheesh!!! Sorry your neighbors are JERKS!!!. Im VERY lucky my neighbors love my flock and I live in a quiet country neighborhood on 2 acres and the laws say that as long as my birds have food,water, and a place they can stand and move around in, im ok
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Dig out your closing paperwork and read the title insurance document. It should show any and all recorded restrictions on your property. If it's not in there and someone tries to enforce it, they will be responsible for legal fees in correcting it. If it's not in there, there's also a VERY good chance that it's not recorded at the courthouse and it would be hard to enforce it if noone can find it in a legal search. Good luck.
I live in a similar neighborhood where we all have at least 2 acres and some have over 50. We had an "Addendum" to the deed that layed out simple restrictions - primarily to prevent others from putting a mobile home up or building a 2 bedroom home. However, that Addendum was good for only 25 years and technically expired in 2000. Now when I hear your problems I'll let you know what my response would be to those neighbors who try to enforce the old Addendum: EVERYONE must comply before I change one D- - - thing! In other words, I'd nitpick what others have done "against" the rules and see how that goes!
Sadly, Realtors are sometimes the last to know about CC&R's (Codes, Covenants and Restrictions). County office clerks are probably in the dark about their specifics, too, unless they are tied to county ordinances in the deed/title documents.

They should be included in disclosure statements, but are not always. They can be easily overlooked in the reams of documentation that is part of any real estate transaction. Often, the selling agent is eager to get the listing, so will simply say, "Oh, we'll get them later..."

He or she may not bring them up at all in the beginning. Sometimes the property owner is unaware of them himself, or cannot produce them... so they slip into the cracks.

You can't really blame the Realtor, either. If she's a sellers agent, she should ask for them from the owner up front, and check that they are current. But that sort of training or acumen can be lacking. Agents are taught the basics, but there is variability as to just what else might be included in their training. They may assume that they are universal in the area and "one size fits all," but since each development and/or subdivision can adopt it's own CC&R's (and not necessarily with homeowner consent), it pays to ask for them specifically.

And while most offices include them in the "checklist" when a listing is taken, they may be considered tertiary to the transaction - something to be ironed out later. I've had to ask for them more than once.

If the Realtor is a buyers agent, she should review such things on her client's behalf. I mean, it's her job to know enough about her client to represent their interests. But again, it can easily slip through the cracks - and if you don't tell her you love chickens, she may not think of it herself.

Finally, here's the way Agency works (as in "real estate agent"): If are not represented by an agent as seller or buyer client, then no one has the obligation to produce such things for you, until it is far too late. So, if you do not ask for them specifically, the results may be disastrous.

The simple answer is for you to always ask for them up front, along with all county, municipal and deed restrictions assigned to the property - well before purchase. I would suggest you request them in the very beginning, before you even enter the property. Since they can be major deal killers, and it's best to know them up front.


AS for your situation, about all you can do now is

Give in
Go underground
Plead your case

Best of luck to you. Keep mum and ply your neighbors with eggs and homeade wine.
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