Historically, courts enforce restrictive covenants that are contained in a deed or other document that is within an owner’s chain of title. If the restriction is “clear, explicit, and unambiguous,” and does not violate public policy, it will be deemed valid on its face and will be enforced by a court. For example, a restriction that limits the height of houses in a particular neighborhood so that all of the property owners retain unobstructed water views is enforceable because it is clear, explicit and unambiguous. Conversely, a restriction that prevents a property from being sold to members of a specific race, religion, or ethnicity is unenforceable because it violates public policy.
Once it is determined that a restrictive covenant is valid on its face and thus enforceable, an owner may be able to eliminate the restriction through three different ways: