Construction and Enforcement of Restrictive Covenants
According to Section 202.002 below, this chapter applies to all restrictive covenants regardless of the date on which they were created.
Title 11, Chapter 202
|Section Name||Section Number|
|Applicability of Chapter||202.002|
|Construction of Restrictive Covenants||202.003|
|Enforcement of Restrictive Covenants||202.004|
|Withdrawal of Signature||202.005|
|Certain Restrictive Covenants Prohibited||202.007|
|Regulation of Display of Political Signs||202.009|
|Regulation of Solar Energy Devices||202.010||Regulation of Certain Roofing Materials||202.011|
|Regulation of Display of Certain Religious Items||202.018|
|Standby Electric Generators||202.019|
Up until the 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), homeowners associations had a lot of leeway to interfere with religious practices or promote particular denominations. But now that the FHA is firmly entrenched in the national lexicon, there are significant limitations on the power an HOA has to restrict religion. The Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604(b), makes it unlawful for “housing providers” (including community associations) “[t]o discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.”
Restrictive covenants in homeowners’ associations are not unusual—nearly every community has them. For homeowners, the restrictions are something of a trade-off. You accept a limitation on how you can use your property because, if everyone else in the community does, too, the neighborhood as a whole will be better off. ‘If we all agree to keep our yards well-maintained and our houses painted nice-looking colors, we all benefit from a more attractive neighborhood with higher property values.’ Courts view HOA restrictions along the same lines as any contract and presume the restrictions are enforceable unless there’s a specific reason why the restriction should not be enforced.
While constitutional free-speech rights can be applied to homeowners associations in only a small minority of jurisdictions (and there only under limited circumstances), many states and the United States Congress have decided that some forms of speech are too important to leave completely between homeowners’ associations and their members. With that in mind, numerous laws specifically restricting the authority of associations to impede certain forms of expression - most notably political speech and patriotic displays – have been enacted throughout the country.
Zoning ordinances and HOA covenants often disallow commercial uses of properties in residential areas. A group home that accepts payments for services provided at the home is almost certainly engaging in commercial activity. But, although the plain language of an ordinance or covenant might appear to prohibit such a group home, federal law forbids state and local governments or HOAs from impeding certain protected uses (more on that later). Importantly, there are different categories of group homes, and the laws protecting each home depend in large part on what kind of home is involved.
Given the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, it is only right that the Congress passed a law in 2003 to assist military members with collections and foreclosure issues. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), all creditors have limitations on debt collections against active duty military members. These limitations include the temporary suspension of judicial and administrative proceedings and transactions that may affect the civil rights of military members during their service. This article will examine in detail the protections afforded by the law to military members who own properties within homeowners' associations.
Congress initially effectuated the Fair Housing Act (FHA)—codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619—in 1968 to prevent discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion or national origin. By 1988, the FHA had been expanded to protect classes to include sex, disability, and familial status. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in concert with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), brings actions against housing providers that violate the statute.