How Deed Restrictions Affect Homeowners

Performance Property Real Estate Question

Q: My husband and I have been thinking about buying a vacation home down the shore. Is it true that they can limit the color you paint your house? Emma, Essex Fells, NJ.

A: A deed restriction is a written agreement that limits how a homeowner can use their property. Deed restrictions can restrict what you build and how you can use your home and the land around your home. These deed restrictions often involve a homeowners association (HOA), which is a type of deed-restricted community. One of the most widely used deed restrictions relates to the color of a home’s exterior. Specifically, a color palette deed restriction requires homeowners to paint their homes with a color palette that has already been pre-approved.

For example, a deed may give an individual ownership of a home with a provision that the new owner cannot paint it any color other than blue. If the buyer accepts the deed, they also accept those restrictions.

Other types of deed restrictions include minimum housing lot size, outlawing commercial development or limits on the height of property structures. Deed restrictions can be removed but that will require consent, either from the governing body that set them or from the other parties involved in the restriction, like other homeowners in the neighborhood. In NJ, deed restrictions can be released by the owner of a property subject to the restrictive covenant by recording a “Certificate of Release of Certain Prohibited Covenants.” Thanks for your question, Emma–good luck!

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