Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
If a covenant runs with the land, at least in the absence of an expressed contrary intention, its operation must be confined to the property as it existed at the time of the covenant. And the rule of strict construction applies when an attempt is made to apply the covenant to other lands. A restrictive covenant should be applied according to their terms against buyers of lots who personally agree to them or whose purchases occur after the recordation of any particular set of covenants. No set of covenants should be given any general retroactive effect.
In March 1978, Fitts and Johnson Development Company (Fitts & Johnson) acquired title to a large tract of land which eventually became Bluff Road Acres. On April 7, 1978, Fitts & Johnson sold two tracts of land to Hasty Construction Company (Hasty). On September 13, 1978, Fitts & Johnson executed restrictive covenants prohibiting mobile homes and commercial activities, which they recorded in the Register's Office of Williamson County. The restrictions purported to cover all of Bluff Road Acres including the two tracts previously sold to Hasty. There was no evidence that Hasty agreed to or acquiesced in the covenants placed on the two tracts it owned. Subsequently, Hasty sold a part of the land in question to the spouses Thomas, which they then sold to Edmondson (appellee) and her husband. When the property was quitclaimed to Edmondson, she then installed a mobile home on her property, expanded a barn, held rodeos, and began a beauty shop on her property. Plaintiffs, on behalf of twenty-one homeowners in Bluff Road Acres, filed suit against Edmondson asserting that she was in violation of the restrictive covenants and seeking injunctive relief by removal of her mobile home and removal of a garage located on her property. Edmondson filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. According to the trial court, a covenant running with the land must be confined to the property, as it existed at the time of the covenant. Plaintiffs appealed.
Under the circumstances, should the restrictive covenant bind appellee, thereby making the grant of summary judgment in her favor an error?
The court affirmed a summary judgment in favor of appellee landowner in an action by appellant landowners to enforce restrictive covenants prohibiting mobile homes and commercial activities, because the covenants were not recorded when the property was sold to the company from whom appellee purchased her lot. The court held that a restrictive covenant could not be applied retroactively, but could only be applied to purchasers of lots who personally agreed to them or whose purchases occurred after the restrictions were recorded. Whether appellee had knowledge of the covenants at the time of her purchase did not affect their application.