Buying out of covered boat dock restriction

by Leslie
(Urbana NY )

Visitor Question: I have purchased lake property. The owner placed a deed restriction on the parcel I bought.

He sold the two parcels on either side of me and allowed them to "buy" out of such restrictions.
I was told I didn't have the option at the time.

Both properties have built covered boat houses on either side of my property but they will not allow me to do so. Is there a chance I could legally try to get this lifted?

Editors Reply: This is really obnoxious behavior on the part of the previous owner, but legally we can't do anything about that.

We assume that you have discussed this with the previous owner, but if not, you should do so as soon as possible. If you feel that this person will not be receptive, you might bring an attorney with you. Sometimes the implied threat will inspire a more reasonable conversation.

If talking does not result in any resolution, then your option is to go to court to seek relief of one kind or another. Decide what would outcomes would be acceptable to you. Do you really want to build a covered boat house yourself, and that is all that would satisfy you?

If so, are you willing to pay the previous owner to lift the restriction and cover his/her expenses for doing so?

Or perhaps you would be content at this point simply to receive some monetary compensation for your inequitable treatment.

Whatever you decide as your bottom line, then discuss the likelihood of being able to achieve that with the attorney in advance of ordering some work done. Most attorneys automatically will talk with you about this before taking a case, but occasionally this step is minimized.

An attorney should be able to prepare a reasonable civil suit to address the unfairness of the situation. Keep in mind your ultimate goal though and make sure the attorney is crafting an action that is most likely to achieve the result you would like.

Since we are not attorneys, we won't go into likely lines of argument, but our sense is that you may be able to prevail in this if it is worth enough to you to cover your legal fees and personal investment of time.

In short, that is the tough thing about deed restrictions. Any type of change requires either complete consent of the parties or private enforcement through the courts.

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