Brief Fact Summary. A property owner subdivides his or her property into lots and sells those lots with restrictive covenants which will further the owner’s general development scheme.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. For the doctrine of implied reciprocal negative easements to apply, a development scheme may impose restrictions on only similarly situated lots.
It is generally held that where a common grantor develops a tract of land for sale in lots and pursues a course of conduct which indicates that he intends to inaugurate a general scheme or plan of improvement for the benefit of himself and the purchasers of the various lots, and by numerous conveyances inserts in the deeds substantially uniform restrictions, conditions and covenants against the use of the property, the grantees acquire by implication an equitable right, variously referred to as an implied reciprocal negative easement or an equitable servitude, to enforce similar restrictions against that part of the tract retained by the grantor or subsequently sold without the restrictions to a purchaser with actual or constructive notice of the restrictions and covenants.View Full Point of Law
Issue. In a common development scheme, do restrictions have to apply to the entire subdivision in order for the doctrine of implied reciprocal negative easement doctrine to apply?
Held. No. Judgment reversed.
Provisions in restrictive covenants that the restrictions may be waived or modified by the consent of three-fourths of the lot owners constitute strong evidence that there is a general development scheme furthered by the restrictive covenants.
The voting rights were attached only to lakefront lots, so it is reasonable to conclude that the restrictions only applied to those lots.
The restricted area does not need to be the whole subdivision or the whole retained tract. The general development scheme may be that the restrictions only apply to certain well-defined similarly situated lots.
Discussion. Implied reciprocal negative easements apply when an owner of property subdivides it into lots and sells those lots with restrictive covenants designed to further the owner’s general plan or scheme of development. The restrictions do not necessarily apply to all of the lots in a development.