Expired covenants and no HOA
Visitor Question: Our rural Colorado subdivision let the HOA expire after 20 years in 2000. But the covenants are still publicly recorded. How do these covenants affect sale of property? That is, a buyer was concerned that he couldn't put his boat and trailer on the acre and half since it was forbidden in the old covenants.
Editors Reply: The answer will hinge on the exact circumstances. Anyone concerned about this particular situation would be well advised to consult an attorney who can read the exact documents in question and interpret them in light of Colorado law or case law.
Instead of being able to give you a definite answer, we will give make some general comments about how to think about this question.
You say that a subdivision allowed an HOA to expire. This implies that the original master deed or covenants describe the circumstances under which a homeowners association ceases to exist. If that is the case, and indeed in 2000 those tests were met, indeed you have no HOA or HOA officers to help decide current questions.
Then you also state that the covenants (which we might characterize as deed restrictions) are still recorded, even though your title calls them "expired covenants." Many things are still recorded but now no longer in effect; in fact usually there is no process for something to cease to be recorded.
So if your title is more accurate, and the master deed says that when there is no HOA, the covenants no longer "run with the property," then a new buyer has nothing to worry about if he or she wants to violate something that was in the old covenants.
In a few jurisdictions, there is a time limit on all deed restrictions, but that is the exception rather than the rule in the U.S. So probably a deed restriction is still in effect unless that master deed spells out what happens once an HOA expires.
If after you consult with an attorney, you find that you have deed restrictions or covenants that are still in effect, but you have no HOA, then it really is up to an individual property owner who feels aggrieved to sue to enforce the covenants.
If you are sympathetic with the prospective buyer, our suggestion would be to have an informal community meeting or barbecue in which this matter is discussed with the buyer. That might prove somewhat comforting, but if the covenant is still in effect legally, a new property owner should not make an investment decision on the basis of a warm and fuzzy response from the community. However, a positive or negative community response could help inform a decision to pay for legal advice or to give up on plans so as not to incur that expense.
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