Restrictive covenants in subdivisions?? Has anyone dealt with this? Is it legal?

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by openheartnurse, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. openheartnurse

    openheartnurse Out Of The Brooder

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    So I am trying to get an ordinance passed for allowing chickens in the city limits and just found out that my subdivision has a "restrictive covenant" that does not allow for the raising of poultry on any of its lots. Can the "restrictive covenant" of my subdivision deny me my right as a citizen of my city, if the city allows it?? Kind of frustrating. :eek:(
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Most definitely. Sorry to be so blunt, but yes, the covenants are generally more restrictive than the city regulations and must be abided.

    DH and I have just spent the past few months looking at real estate and basically refused to look at any property that has covenants precisely because we want the freedom to keep chooks etc and knew that would not be possible in most neighborhoods governed by a covenant.

    That said, I can tell you about a half dozen properties I know of where there are covenants prohibiting keeping chickens, but the property owners are doing it anyway. As long as their neighbors don't mind and don't report them, they might be okay for awhile. However if even one of their neighbors decides they don't want them to have the poultry any more, that neighbor will have the "power" to force the homeowner(s) to get rid of their stock. And, there is the further risk that in the event one of their neighbors sells their house, the new neighbors might not be crazy about the poultry either....
     
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  3. gg706

    gg706 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you went and spoke to your neighbors and asked them about keeping a few hens how do you think they would respond. I would definetly mention that you have NO intention of keeping ANY roosters.
     
  4. cubalaya

    cubalaya Overrun With Chickens

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    you should have checked the covenants before you moved there. some covenants allow horses but restrict chickens and pigs. would never want to live in a subdivision or trailer park. just too restrictive.
     
  5. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, the covenant restricts your ability to have chickens. You likely signed it as part of the signing marathon you undertook when you purchased the property. Or, if you rent, there was likely a clause stating that you agreed to abide by the restrictions of the covenant.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012
  6. ChickChickChicky

    ChickChickChicky Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Homeowner's Associations have HUGE powers to deny just about any activity, including flying the American flag on your own property. They can dictate what color you paint your home, whether you can have a garden and what kind of landscaping you can have, what your roof is made of (and the color), where (and whether) you can park your car, etc. Just read the news, seems there is always a story somewhere about HOA's and/or restrictive covenants denying somebody what would seem to be a basic human right. And HOA's also can get very nasty by imposing fines if you don't do what they say... I've heard of people getting liens against their homes and eventually losing them because of such stuff, I guess the concept of a HOA may sound attractive to some people (keep "trash" and things we don't like out of our neighborhood, make everybody look the same, etc), but it can backfire in a heartbeat. I would NEVER live in a place that had a HOA or restrictive covenants.
     
  7. openheartnurse

    openheartnurse Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, we bought this house in August and was not told of any homeowners association for the subdivision. Makes it very frustrating.
     
  8. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    If you didn't sign anything about the HOA, then you are in better shape. However my guess would be if you go back over the paperwork you signed at closing, not only will it be in there, but you have been paying (or will be billed) the HOA dues.

    The other possibility is that there are covenants but they are not active at the moment. We looked at one house like that. It had a lengthy covenant that prohibited everything under the sun. But there wasn't an active HOA and many of the residents were doing things prohibited by the covenant. It was a "gray area" in that without active oversight, there is essentially no covenant, but the covenant itself can be "reactivated" any time. All it takes is for a resident to take umbridge at what their neighbors are doing and take steps to reactivate, and everyone could be forced to comply with the covenants or face stiff penalties. If this is your situation though, the information about the covenant should have been disclosed by your realtor and will almost certainly have been something you signed at closing.
     
  9. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    It is also possible that the covenants are not part of an HOA, but were created at the same time as the subdivision, and were legally tied to the property at that time. In this case, you would not have had to sign anything at closing; a search of the property title and/or recorded documents for the property would show that it has covenants. How they can be enforced would vary by state.

    As far as HOA restrictions, most states have statutes that limits what they can and cannot enforce, but I've never heard of a state that guarantees the right to keep chickens. Flag flying, lien foreclosing and solar panels are things that are commonly addressed.
     
  10. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Deed restrictions and HOA covenants are super tough. Usually ironclad and only the covenant makers themselves, all who are part of the covenant, can amend them. In a subdivision of 200 homeowners, this proves very, very difficult and almost impossible.

    There are many covenants often attached to a piece of property that a perspective buyer is totally responsible for due diligence before buying. In buying, you agree to accept them. End of story. Somewhere in your purchase agreement or closing statement are words to the effect, "and all covenants, easements, blah, blah, blah..." The purpose of a title search is to find and disclose such things. Many times people never see these things before closing and pay little attention to such details.

    Our neighbor's property covenanted with the Power Company for a 300' right of way, including the complete cutting down of all trees within that right of way, to prevent any growth of trees to take down power lines. They clear cut that right of way every decade of so, wiping out the trees. My neighbor was horrified. There was nothing he could do. He had not done due diligence when buying the property and was unaware of the covenant. His ignorance made zero difference in the enforcement of the terms.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012

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