Can a town enforce deed restrictions

Visitor Question: Our town in New Hampshire has a Land Use Ordinance regarding RVs that reads:

"One recreational vehicle (RV) of any size may be parked in the Town on land owned by the registered owner of the RV and can be used as a temporary dwelling, provided it is on wheels, is roadworthy, has a current motor vehicle registration and has a state approved, functioning waste- disposal system. The RV must meet all setback requirements of this LUO and must not violate deed restrictions...."


Editors Reply: As you are probably well aware, most towns won't get involved with enforcing deed restrictions and often won't even become involved in a conversation about them.

Exceptions are found in Texas, where especially in the Houston area, governments have taken on some responsibilities in this area.

However, increasingly well-run governments elsewhere have noted that deed restrictions in private developments are having a much greater impact on residents' lives, zoning, and code enforcement than was the case 50 years ago.

Yes, if a town wants to add a provision to its land use ordinance stating that a structure or accessory land use must comply with existing deed restrictions, there is nothing in law to prevent them from doing so. Many governments won't want to do that because it obviously could add to its code enforcement burden. But if they are willing to take that on, overall it is a good step toward making sure that residents don't feel they are subject to two different sets of laws.

We do realize that what we are saying may not be what you wanted to hear, but yes, the town is well within its land use control rights. Notice that the town doesn't register motor vehicles either, but it requires a current registration. Also the state approves waste systems, not the town, and yet the town is requiring a state-approved system. Similarly, the town is requiring that any deed restrictions against RVs be complied with, even though the town does not create deed restrictions and deed restrictions are not creatures of government.

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