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Reporting no hunting deed restriction violation

by Dennis
(Alachua, Florida USA)

Visitor Question: When the Deed Restriction states that there shall be no hunting on the properties connected to the covenant what agency do you report that someone is hunting on said property?

Editors Reply: If there is a homeowner's association that has been created by these covenants, report the violation to them. The problem with deed restrictions is that they can only be enforced ultimately by a court, but many homeowner's associations have the power to impose fines or take other actions that make it very uncomfortable for someone violating a restriction.

However, when the violation of the covenant is a behavior rather than something permanently attached to the land or buildings, it becomes more difficult to prove and enforce. If the hunter is someone who owns land in the development covered by the covenants, it may be easier for an effective property owner's association to rein in the hunter.

However, if the hunter is someone who doesn't live there, that's a different problem. The issue in that case would be finding the person or persons who told the hunter that hunting there would be all right. If it could be shown that a person owning property covered by the covenant gave permission to violate the covenant, again a good HOA might be able to put on some informal pressure or even impose fines, although the latter would be unlikely.

After we said all of that, of course the hunter may not have sought or received permission, or someone who does not own property in your development may have stated or implied to the hunter that no one would care. So in this case, there is really nothing that can be done--except for the homeowners association or individual property owners to post No Trespassing signs and seek to have those enforced according to Florida law. Call your city police or sheriff's office if outside any city limits, and ask about this. They will know what can be done.

So we took a long route to advise you that perhaps your best and easiest course of action would be to have your homeowner's association, assuming there is a functioning one in existence, to post No Trespassing and No Hunting signs and then to seek help from law enforcement to the extent your laws allow.

If the HOA has never been set up or has become inactive, a situation people write to us about frequently, then in practice it is up to the individual property owners to try to stop the hunting through trespassing law and sign posting. If that doesn't work, you would have to go to court to try to enforce the covenant, providing you can figure out who the hunter is.

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