Restrictions on Ownership Rights in Real Property

In addition to limitations on the use of your property that are imposed by zoning laws and building codes, other limitations may be created by laws enacted by government and by traditions that have the force of law (“common law”). For example, no owner may use his property to create a nuisance for his neighbors.  A nuisance under common law occurs when an owner uses his property to interfere with the use and enjoyment of his neighbors’ properties – such as making unreasonable and excessive noise, or conducting activities that carry with them the risk of an explosion or a release of dangerous chemicals.

What you bring to your property may be restricted by environmental laws prohibiting the release of chemicals known to be dangerous. These restrictions may include not only to the handling of substances used by industrial property owners, but also include such things as solvents and cleaners used by businesses and even by individuals.

Also, your right to occupy your property and keep others off of it may be limited by private agreements you or a prior owner created concerning the use of your property.  One example of a private agreement is a declaration recorded upon the creation of a homeowners community, governing the operations and costs of the community. Easements are private agreements which are granted to utility companies so that they can maintain their conduits, or to a neighbor allowing him to come over your property to access his own property.

There may be other restrictions or circumstances that will limit your ability to use, finance or sell your property, such as a lifetime tenancy given to another person through a trust or will.

Legal Editors: William P. Walzer and Terrence M. Dunn, October 2017

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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