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  1. #1
    Indiana Filer is offline Senior Member
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    Changing Covenants and Restrictions

    What is your state? Indiana (Apologies in advance for length, and TIA for advice.)

    For those who don’t want to read everything, this all boils down to one question: Can covenants and restrictions be changed by the developer if the homeowners do not agree?

    In 1998, we purchased one of the first lots in a rural subdivision, made up of 15 lots. We were given a declaration of covenants, restrictions, and easements (covering all the lots) at the time, which our lawyer reviewed. I went to the court house, and have found that these C&Rs are still in effect with no changes, at least for my lot. The document says that the C&Rs run with the land and can only be changed with unanimous consent of all concerned. We’ve never agreed (or been asked to agree) with any changes. I plan to go to the CH again to see if the C&Rs have been recorded with changes for any of the other lots. If it matters, the developer we bought from sold the unsold lots to a different developer in 2001.

    The restrictions include land use (residential use only), roof pitch (4/12 minimum), home size, (1200 sq ft) and no significant erosion allowed. The exact language about structures states: “Only permanent residential structures suitable for year-round living with electrical service and in-door plumbing, together with suitable out buildings ancillary to permanent residential structures.” “No tents, trailers, shacks, or campers shall be permitted on any of the premises, except for trailers or temporary structures located on a lot during construction of a permanent dwelling, up to a maximum total period of six months.”

    Some people just bought a lot, and have permission from the developer to install a geodesic dome house. I think it’s a cool idea, but two of the lot owners don’t want it here. I can’t really blame them, since it’s not a 4/12 pitch, and will be “different”. On another lot, people (and lots of their friends) have been camping for a couple weeks, and have established ATV trails. There’s a lot of noise, and the trails are causing erosion of their land. They are not in the process of building anything yet, other than dirt trails and bad neighborhood relations.

    I have reviewed the plat book at the CH, and have found that 6 of the lots, including the two above, are still held in the name of the developer, although we’ve been told that these lots are sold. We’re assuming they’ve been sold on contract.

    So, how do we enforce these restrictions and are they enforceable? I’m tired of the sounds of 15-20 ATV’s racing at all hours of the day and night. We’re having a meeting to which everyone is invited tomorrow night. Watch for fireworks coming from the Midwest!
  2. #2
    absconder Guest
    Are you in the county or in the city limits?
  3. #3
    Indiana Filer is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by absconder
    Are you in the county or in the city limits?
    We're in the county. The only county regulations/zoning that covers this area is that lots have to be a minimum of 2 acres unless in a subdivision. (We're in a subdivision, but the lots are all over 4 acres in size.)

    Thanks!
    C
  4. #4
    Indiana Filer is offline Senior Member
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    Question Now we're the enemies!

    Quote Originally Posted by Indiana Filer
    We're in the county. The only county regulations/zoning that covers this area is that lots have to be a minimum of 2 acres unless in a subdivision. (We're in a subdivision, but the lots are all over 4 acres in size.)

    Thanks!
    C
    Well, I went to the courthouse to make sure that the copy of the CC&Rs that I have are the same as those recorded. They are, so I made enough copies of the documents and took them to a meeting of all the property owners tonight. I wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page as far as knowing what restrictions are legally recorded with the land.

    There are two families that just purchased lots. Family A purchased 3 lots, and family B purchased 2 lots. Family B is going to be the problem

    These people are the type that think their opinions supersede everyone else. They are also the back-to-nature elvish type of people, not that it really matters.

    They want to build a earthen-roofed house that will not meet any of the restrictions other than the indoor plumbing. Supposedly the man went to the courthouse last month and was told that there are no CC&Rs filed. This is false since I got my copy of the restrictions from the courthouse in 1998. He also stated that he was told when they signed the contract to purchase the land that they could change any of the restrictions that they wanted. (If there are no restrictions, there should be nothing to be changed!)

    At tonight's meeting, everyone else said that we want to stick with the original restrictions. This man and his wife declared that we are now their enemies. Oh well. I told the couple that I think they should talk to a lawyer about any recourse for lying that they might have against the real estate agent and the seller. They said they don't have money for a lawyer.

    My husband thinks this couple is going to try to continue to build their non-conforming house. We (us and the other enemies of the couple AKA the neighbors) plan to keep an eye on the lot to see what happens.

    What can we do if they continue with their plans which are against the restrictions? Who will pay the legal fees when we win? Which I assume we will since I had an attorney review the restrictions before we bought and he said they were done correctly.
  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    It's not funny, your situation that is, but had to laugh. You are not alone. We just bought 4 acres in a rural subdivision, in a small town in Southern Indiana. We weren't told there were CC&R's. Didn't find out until after the closing. Two old farts were the sellers, and we were two naive, dummies. We did ask them about covenants when we first viewed the property but they lied and said there weren't any, and we were trusting souls.

    We have since had a couple of interesting HOA meetings. We have three landowners that want to play god to the other 18 homeowners, they were the first three to build/buy. Those three basically do what they want, but expect everyone else to conform to their rules. It's not gonna work, though, they are fast finding out.

    Most CC&R's are similar, but you would have to read yours thoroughly to see what the recourse is, for someone that really violates them. Ours has a few things such as a lien put on the land and house, or the HOA can come on our property and make it conform to the Covenants, and then charge the homeowner for work done. Read it or take it back to your attorney and ask him to interpret it, and tell you what legal recourse you all have if they build their strange house. Sounds interesting, I would love to see a pic of that house when it is done. We have someone next to us that brought plans for some kind of geo-dome house to one of the meetings, LOL. I don't think it will fly.

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