Brief Fact Summary.
Leyland appealed a judgment that prevented her from enforcing a restrictive covenant that ran with land she sold entirely to various grantees.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A previous landowner who no longer benefits from a covenant is not eligible to enforce an appurtenant covenant.
Restrictions in a deed will be regarded as for the personal benefit of the grantor unless a contrary intention appears, and the burden of showing that they constitute covenants running with the land is upon the party claiming the benefit of the restriction.View Full Point of Law
Leyland had 75 acres of land which she sold to Shaff and other buyers, that included a restrictive covenant that grantees could only build colonial-type residences. The restrictive covenant expressly stated that it would run with the land. Shaff sought a declaratory judgment claiming that Leyland could not enforce the covenant because Leyland no longer owned any of the 75 acres. The court granted judgment to Shaff and Leyland appealed.
Whether a previous landowner who no longer benefits from a covenant is eligible to enforce an appurtenant covenant?
No. The judgment of the lower courts are affirmed. The property in this case was an appurtenant covenant held personally because Leyland intended for the covenant to be attached to the land, and the covenant was meant to benefit the grantor, Leyland. The appurtenant covenant is only attached to the land as long as Leyland owns the land. Leyland therefore has no reason to enforce the appurtenant covenant.
A person cannot suffer a legal injury from violation of the covenant if the party does not own the land benefitted by the covenant. Appurtenant covenants are attached to the land, and if the covenant is personal (benefitting the landowner), the benefit stays with the grantor as long as the grantor owns the land. However, if the covenant runs with the land, the covenant runs to successive landowners.