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How Are Deed Restrictions Created?

by Robert Alley, studioD

Deed restrictions limit the use of a landowner's property. The restrictions detail a list of prohibited activities. Private parties impose these restrictions. They are in addition to any restrictions set out by governments in laws, statutes and ordinances. Every landowner needs to know the deed restrictions on his property. A good title search uncovers every pre-existing restriction. Any new restrictions come from the seller of a given parcel of land.


The person conveying or selling land, known as the grantor, creates deed restrictions by placing them in the deed to the buyer, or grantee. Any restriction that is not illegal can be placed in the deed. For example, a grantor who lives on 100 acres decides to sell 20 acres. Because the grantee will own adjoining property, the grantor places deed restrictions such as no mobile homes, no business activity and a minimum square footage to any home built on the property. These restrictions protect the grantor's property value.

Restrictive Covenants

Developers place restrictive covenants on subdivisions and other planned neighborhoods. These covenants ensure the uniform nature of the development. Once the developer has sold all the land, enforcement usually lies with a homeowners association created by the restrictive covenants. The first deed from the developer to the initial land owner references the covenants. Membership in the homeowners association is required. The covenants contain restrictions such as setback lines, minimum square footage and the type of fencing allowed. Most covenants grant the homeowners association the power of amendment and waiver.


Surveyors draw maps, or plats, of land for developers and individuals. Landowners retain the right to place restrictions in the maps. The map restrictions become deed restrictions when the deed refers to the map and incorporates it by reference. The entire map becomes part of the deed and the grantee is bound by all map restrictions. For example, maps detail easements, setback lines and road right-of-ways.

Prior Grantor

In most cases deed restrictions last forever. Any deed restriction from a prior grantor, no matter how many years ago, remains with the land and each subsequent grantee is bound by it. This is true even if the current deed does not reference the deed restriction. The only way to remove a deed restriction is by the grantor, or his successor in interest, waiving or revoking the restriction.

About the Author

Robert Alley has been a freelance writer since 2008. He has covered a variety of subjects, including science and sports, for various websites. He has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from North Carolina State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina.

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