Homeowners have a lot of freedom when it comes to their property. Generally, you have the right to enjoy your property in most ways you see fit. However, there are certain limitations. Laws, ordinances, and covenants can all affect your rights as a homeowner.
The following article covers many of the most common limitations on private property use, as well as some ideas about how you can get around them. Be sure to check your community for details and specific laws relating to your land use, or better still, follow the link at the bottom of the page to contact a local attorney for a personalized assessment of your property use issues.
Breaking the Law
It probably goes without saying that, as a homeowner, you don't have the right to break the law in your home. If it's illegal outside of the home, chances are it's illegal inside the home, as well. That goes for drug crimes, violent crimes, and most other categories of criminal activity.
However, criminal laws aren't the only things restricting your at-home behavior. Local ordinances often prevent you from being too much of a nuisance to your neighbors. For example, you can't crank up your stereo at 3 a.m. in most neighborhoods.
Even though an activity isn't criminal doesn't mean it's appropriate for your neighborhood. Zoning restrictions prevent businesses from sprouting up in neighborhoods and houses from being built in business parks.
While zoning ordinances vary from city to city, areas are typically designated for residential, business, or industrial use. So before you open a convenience store in your garage or convert your office building into an apartment complex, you should check with your local zoning authority.
Covenants and Easements
Property law creates other situations in which your rights as a homeowner may be restricted. Many developments and subdivisions have covenants dictating what improvements can be made or how land can be used. For example, some neighborhoods require a certain level of lawn maintenance or prohibit satellite dishes from being affixed to homes. Gated communities are particularly notorious for their restrictive covenants and may limit the color you can paint your house, the way you use your yard, or where you store your garbage cans.
Easements can also affect your rights as a homeowner. An easement is a property interest allowing another person to use property he or she doesn't own. For example, an easement on your property may allow your neighbor to cross your land or a telephone company to maintain power lines on it. You can consult with a real estate attorney to determine whether there's an easement on your land.
Speak with an Attorney to Learn More About Your Rights as a Homeowner
Your home is your castle, but there are many situations in which a neighbor or other party can limit your activities on your own land. Contact a local real estate attorney to learn about the rights and limitations you have when it comes to using your land.