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Suing for a neighborhood covenant violation

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I live in the city of Beloit, Wisconsin. City codes and ordinances allow me to build a detached outbuilding to be used as an extra garage. My neighborhood restrictions which were written in 1958 do not allow this. To the best of my knowledge they are still in effect. There is a statement that the restrictions shall be renewed every 20 years unless voted upon by the homeowners in the neighborhood. This has not happened.

There are several instances of violations of the restrictions already in place with other homes in the neighborhood. My question is this:

What would a neighbor have to do in order to stop me from building this extra garage? The City of Beloit Planning and Zoning board has already stated that the individual would have to deal with the matter herself, the city can do nothing since it allows the building.

I assume that this individual would have to sue me and then there would be a court case. Does anyone have any idea of approximately how much time and money this person would have to invest in order to take the legal actions required? Also, is it possible that I would have to pay her costs if I would lose the case? Any advice on this type of situation would be greatly appreciated.


Senior Member
The City goes by the applicable zoning and building codes and not private restrictions recorded on title.
Since the neighborhood restrictions are in place, you need to find out how many property owners are affected by such restrictions. Because if someone complains about your violation, they could very well get the entire neighborhood involved and litigation costs would be divided among many owners and not just a single owner. Thus one person would be unlikely to sue and spend thousands of dollars in legal fees but a bunch of homeowners would be more likely to sue to enforce the restrictions if it only costs them a few hundred dollars each. Or take another case, whereby one of the homeowners was an attorney and all the legal work was done for free.

Why not add to your existing garage or find a loophole in the restrictions so you can still build what you want.

[Edited by HomeGuru on 05-06-2001 at 03:13 AM]

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