California has long recognized the validity of reciprocal agreements to restrict, or limit, the use of real property. One of the most common forms of these agreements is called a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). As explained below, CC&Rs can provide a great deal of utility and value to your property, but at the same time the CC&Rs can severely restrict what you can do to your own property.
To illustrate the benefits provided by CC&Rs, most beach front communities are subject to CC&Rs that prevent one owner from obstructing the ocean view of another owner. For example, large portions of Malibu, California are subject to CC&Rs that impose this very restriction. As a result, any owner with an ocean view can seek injunctive relief to stop construction, or even demolish a completed structure, that interferes with the owner’s ocean view.
The obvious downside of CC&Rs is the reciprocal nature of the agreement. All owners with the right to injunctive relief are themselves subject to same restrictions. Indeed, if you own property subject to CC&Rs and want to make an improvement that would dramatically increase the value of your property, but violate the CC&Rs, you may be enjoined from doing so. This remains true even if the improvement would have very little impact on the neighboring owners.
The rules regarding CC&Rs are complex, and the language in some CC&Rs can be dense, so it is essential to closely review the CC&Rs before purchasing property, or beginning any major work on a property that is subject to CC&Rs.
At Schorr Law, our Los Angeles based real estate attorneys and CC&R attorneys have extensive experience dealing with CC&Rs, easement rights and related yet intricate real estate disputes. We pride ourselves on getting into a level of detail and depth on real estate matters that few people ever get to.
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