Home-selling tips: The role of CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions)
August 31, 2016
Neighborhoods and subdivisions develop character that ultimately defines them. Character is created by a variety of factors, including location, price point, area amenities and requirements imposed on every property owner by the developer.
Developers typically have a vision of what they want their subdivision to ultimately look like. To assure it builds out as they envision, they design CC&Rs that compel property owners in the subdivision to build to a certain standard, include specific features in their property improvement, and to live within common guidelines.
CC&Rs stands for Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. They are a set of rules and regulations that are recorded against a property that future property owners must abide by.
A property owner can put CC&Rs against a single property, i.e. — when selling the property next door, limit the location and height of any building improvements, limit use to residential, etc.
Most often, CC&Rs are put in place on an entire subdivision so everyone lives in relatively the same manner. The idea is to protect the integrity and character of the neighborhood for everyone.
Most such sets of CC&Rs include guidelines/restrictions for size of the home being constructed; type of fence that may and/or must be constructed; architectural guidelines including style, color, materials, etc; pet guidelines; landscaping guidelines; requirements for property maintenance, like keeping it clean, tidy and free of weeds; allowable/disallowed uses; vehicle guidelines, such as no inoperative vehicles in public view, no overnight outside parking, etc.; and allowable or prohibited activities, etc.
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If you live in a subdivision with smaller lots you probably don't want someone to run a landscaping or trucking business from their home in your neighborhood.
The equipment and employee parking will take over the streets. Some subdivisions even go so far as to restrict the size of vehicle you can drive home, i.e. — no one ton pickups isn't that unusual. CC&Rs can help protect your quiet enjoyment of your property.
It is important to know if the CC&Rs are still in effect, have been modified and, most importantly, are being enforced. The latter can be the source of much consternation for both those desiring enforcement, and those wanting leniency.
Regardless of past activity, that can change at any time. The CC&Rs are recorded against every property and are able to be enforced as written. Most contain language that says if one person is granted a variance, it doesn't mean variances are automatic.
Read the entire document, not just about the size of the home and whether or not outside clotheslines are allowed. The document should provide for how it will be enforced. Understand your rights, the rights of others and how they can impact you before you invest in a neighborhood.
Our Advice: On one hand CC&Rs may seem restrictive, but they are far less onerous than the non-compliant neighbor who causes grief throughout the neighborhood. When things go bad in a neighborhood without controls, it can be devastating to the psyche of the residents.
Visual and audio blight, or abuse of common area facilities including streets, can disrupt the harmony and integrity of a subdivision quickly. Subdivisions with CC&Rs usually attract like-minded people that are inclined to make like-minded investments for their like-minded lifestyle. Read the CC&Rs and make sure you understand what they say and how they are enforced.
If you want a free for all in land use then buy accordingly. In such areas we usually see "the Code of the West" — you do your thing and I'll do mine, but I'm here if you need me. A fine way to live for those desiring that lifestyle.
Lisa Wetzel & Jim Valentine, CDPE, SFR, work for RE/MAX Realty Affiliates in the Carson Valley. Visit carsonvalleyland.com or call 775-781-5472 for information.
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