Covenant Protecting Mountain View
Visitor Question: I have owned my property for 15 years. We have a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. The original owner of my property owned 10 acres in front of my home and sold it before we bought the home and 7 acres. The previous owner of our home put a protective covenant of 500 feet right in front of our home to keep the view of the mountains.
The covenant reads, There is to be a 500ft area to the west of our address and this area is to be kept open and free of any view obstructing buildings and landscaping. To keep this short, the new owner of my neighboring property has built a home within 6iin of the covenant line and a shop the same distance. He has built the ground up 2ft for building and now he is parking large dump trucks and trailers and heavy equipment right in the covenant which is blocking our view and it looks like a gravel yard.
I have contacted an attorney but he says that if we take it to court we might lose because there is nothing saying in the recorded document about parking vehicles. I say my covenant reads open and free of anything blocking my view. We have a beautiful home and this new neighbor has destroyed our quiet country living. What do you feel his right is concerning the covenant I hold on his land.
Any advice would be very much appreciated. I can send pictures if it would help. Thank you.
Editors Reply: If we understand your situation correctly, the previous owner of both your home site and an adjacent property where you now have an obnoxious new neighbor placed a deed restriction (covenant) on that adjoining land saying that no building or landscaping could infringe on the view from your home. The distance of 500 feet was called out explicitly.
Now we would agree that your new neighbor is violating certainly the spirit of that covenant. However, we do have to say that the attorney you consulted also seems to us to have a very good point, in that the deed restriction language that you quoted does not address parking or earth moving, while it does address explicitly building and landscaping.
When answering questions about deed restrictions, we often need to reiterate that we are not attorneys and that our backgrounds are in urban planning. Usually the person who wrote the question has not asked an attorney, and we urge him or her to do so. But in your case, we would just say that you did the right thing, so now you should pay careful attention to that attorney's advice.
You can always look for a different attorney who will take a more holistic approach to this question, but then that could become an expensive and exhausting process. Perhaps you just want to weigh the probability of success if you move forward with a lawsuit, against the estimated total cost of the process. The attorney should be able to give you some sort of range of likely costs.
Another option to consider is asking the attorney simply to write a threatening letter to the new property owner, since you are implying that the problem is a parking habit and perhaps a reworking of some grades, both of which could be rather easily reversed by your new neighbor if properly motivated.
Folks, this is why relying on deed restrictions is not the best protection for you as a homeowner. As this site visitor who wrote the question shows, you have to consult an attorney to gain any enforcement. Then if the attorney says you may not win a lawsuit, you have to figure out if you want to go forward.
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