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What do you mean I can't keep Chickens? Deed Restrictions and You


Posted: November 29, 2019 by Lisa DeJessa

According to www.uslegal.com, a deed restriction is defined as: … private agreements that restrict the use of the real estate in some way, and are listed in the deed. The seller may add a restriction to the title of the property. Often, developers restrict the parcels of property in a development to maintain a certain amount of uniformity.

So what does that mean?

Imagine that, after months of searching, you finally find the home of your dreams. Your escrow deposit was delivered, your inspections finished and the process is running smoothly to Closing. The Title Commitment and report is delivered and in those pages your agent discovers a deed restriction and asks for a copy. In that document, recorded by the original developer, is a sentence that reads: “Owner shall refrain from the keeping of livestock”.

Well ok – fine you think – I don’t have cows. My chickens are pets not livestock! After doing some research you and your agent discover that the original developer, however, did consider chickens to be livestock. And Deed restrictions are not like Home Owners Association Rules and regulations – they cannot be changed by agreement with neighbors– they can only be changed by judicial ruling.  Once a deed restriction is properly recorded, it remains in the “chain of title” for the property involved forever (or until the time limit specified in the deed restriction), regardless of whether or not later deeds to the property mention or reference the deed restriction. 

This is why we advise that you investigate all restrictions before buying. You may not want the hassle of begging enforcing groups or judges to allow you to keep your chickens.

It’s often easier to adjust your expectations, or simply look at other real estate, when deed restrictions prevent you from buying your dream home.

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