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Home Business and Personal Conduct Restrictions

While home owners have a certain amount of discretion with respect to what they do on their own property, there are some exceptions. For the most part, such restrictions are intended to prevent conflicts among neighbors and maintain a peaceful neighborhood. In "common interest" developments, such as condominiums and some neighborhoods with single-family homes, there may be rules dictating what types of activities and behavior are considered inappropriate. These rules are referred to as "covenants, conditions, and restrictions" (or "CC&Rs").

This article focuses on CC&Rs pertaining to home businesses and personal conduct. See CC&R Basics and Purpose of CC&Rs to learn more.

Home Businesses

Neighbors often complain about the noise and traffic of home-based businesses. They may also resent the presence of outsiders constantly coming into the residential area, which may enhance burglaries, robberies, and other crime. They may fear the consequences that home businesses have on property values or zoning regulations.

In truth, most home businesses are discreet and unobtrusive. They may involve computer work, arts and crafts, writers, or consultants, so the negative effect on neighboring properties is minimal or nonexistent. Covenants attempting to restrict them may fail as unjustified restrictions on private rights to be gainfully employed. For this reason, most covenants involving home-based business address corollary issues, such as noise, traffic, pollution, etc.

Personal Conduct

Covenants may address personal conduct, particularly concerning dress codes when entering common areas, such as swimming pools, tennis courts, etc. Drunk or disorderly conduct, entering another's property unannounced, or disturbing the peace may also be prohibited in particular covenants.

Miscellaneous covenants may address or prohibit other activities or issues that tangentially touch on personal conduct. These topics may also be addressed under appearance and maintenance covenants. Storing or working on disabled or older, broken-down vehicles in one's yard, or keeping a backdoor floodlight (or front door light) may be prohibited, even though they impinge on a resident's right to his own use and enjoyment of his property.

The legal concept relied upon to enforce such covenants is the argument that the proscribed activities also impinge upon neighboring properties and the use and enjoyment of them as well. Since residents voluntarily agree to covenants, their conduct can be thus restricted.

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