A restrictive covenant is a binding legal obligation that relates to the use of the land. Typically, restrictive covenants are written into the real estate deed to the property. In some situations, a plaintiff may sue to enforce a covenant against the owner of property subject to a restrictive covenant, as in an August 9, 2019 Massachusetts property case.
Both of the parties in the case resided in a subdivision abutting a country club and golf course. When the homes were sold, the subdivision developer imposed a No Pools Restriction on the lots. The defendant knew about the restriction when he bought the property but began building a pool anyway. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Land Court to enforce the restrictive covenant and enjoin the defendant from completing the pool.
In Massachusetts, although landowners are not precluded from bargaining for and enforcing beneficial land use restrictions, restrictions on land are generally disfavored. To promote the reasonable use of land and increase the marketability of land impaired by obsolete restrictions, Massachusetts has enacted a statute that limits the right to enforce restrictive covenants on real property. The defendants in the case agreed that their property was subject to a restrictive covenant but argued that this statute applied to prevent the plaintiff from enforcing the restriction at issue.