What Are My Rights as a Homeowner?
Homeowners have a lot of freedom when it comes to their real property. Generally, you have the right to enjoy your property in most ways you see fit. However, there are certain limitations. Laws, ordinances, and covenants can all affect your rights as a homeowner.
The following article covers many of the most common limitations on private property use and your options as a homeowner. Be sure to check your community for details and specific laws relating to your land use. For a personalized assessment of your property use issues, contact a local property law attorney.
Breaking the Law
It probably goes without saying that, as a homeowner, you don't have the right to break the law in your home. If it's illegal outside of the home, chances are it's illegal inside the home. That goes for drug crimes, violent crimes, and most other categories of criminal activity.
However, criminal laws aren't the only things restricting your at-home behavior. Local ordinances may limit your use of your property, including local noise ordinance and nuisance laws. For example, you may not be able to crank up your stereo at 3 a.m. in a residential neighborhood.
Even though an activity isn't criminal doesn't mean it's appropriate for your neighborhood. Zoning restrictions prevent certain types of businesses from sprouting up in neighborhoods and houses from being built in business parks.
While zoning ordinances vary from city to city, areas are typically designated for residential, business, or industrial use. Before you decide to open a convenience store in your garage or convert your office building into an apartment complex, you should check with your local zoning authority.
Covenants and Easements
Property law creates other situations in which your rights as a homeowner may be restricted. Many developments and subdivisions have covenants dictating what improvements can be made or how the land can be used. For example, some neighborhoods require a certain level of lawn maintenance or prohibit satellite dishes from being affixed to homes.
Gated communities are particularly notorious for their restrictive covenants. These residential communities may limit the color you can paint your house, the way you use your yard, or where you store your garbage cans.
Easements can also affect your rights as a homeowner. An easement is a property interest allowing another person to use the property. For example, an easement on your property may allow your neighbor to cross your land or a telephone company to maintain power lines on it. You can consult with a real estate attorney to determine whether there's an easement on your land.
Speak with an Attorney to Learn More About Your Rights as a Homeowner
Your home is your castle, but there are many situations in which a neighbor or other party can limit your activities on your own land. Contact a local real estate attorney to learn about the rights and limitations you have when it comes to using your land.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.