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Voluntary Neighborhood Covenants

Homeowners in so-called "common interest" communities may be subject to covenants, conditions, and restrictions on how they use their property and the commonly shared amenities of the neighborhood. These rules are created by the building developer (although subject to revision by a homeowners association, or HOA, board) before a single unit is even sold. Home buyers often appreciate these rules, since they generally discourage actions that degrade the value of the homes. But sometimes homeowners will decide to establish their own voluntary neighborhood covenants, for similar reasons.

This article is about voluntary neighborhood covenants, not to be confused with HOAs.

Often, homeowners whose individual homes are not part of any organized association -- and/or are not subject to any CC&Rs -- will voluntarily form an association to promote the maintenance or enhancement of their property values. In forming a group united by concerns that other homeowners may share, the homeowners will draft covenants that are binding on all homeowners within a geographically defined area.

A voluntary covenant can be more difficult to create or enforce, for two specific reasons:

  1. A single homeowner who holds back consent or refuses to join the association can prevent the formation of binding covenants.
  2. Because the covenants were formed after the fact of purchase, they are not "deed restrictions" and will not run with the land. Since they are voluntary commitments among current owners, the sale of a single property to a subsequent purchaser can end the covenants for all properties.

Notwithstanding, a group of residents may voluntarily agree to adopt permanent covenants and choose to have them subsequently added to their property descriptions and deeds. This often occurs when they are concerned that, if one of them sells his or her home, the remaining residents will be adversely affected by what a subsequent purchaser will do with/to the property.

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