What are CCRs?

In a recent post about dealing with your neighbor when it comes to fences, I mentioned “CCRs” as one possible location for information or rules governing your placement of (and payment for) fencing.  One reader inquired regarding what CCRs are — thus this post.

CCR is, of course, an abbreviation for Credence Clearwater Revival, an awesome band from the 1970s with hits such as “Proud Mary” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain.”  But it also stands for the slightly less enjoyable “Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions.”  In this context, CCRs are a complex series of “dos” and “don’ts” built into real estate deeds.  Often, when a property developer sets up a subdivision, it creates a series of CCRs that govern all sorts of issues related to the subdivision, such as the types of permitted landscaping, permissible building materials, occupancy rules, rules regarding the permissible colors of houses, and sometimes establishing homeowners’ associations.  When someone goes to buy a house in that subdivision, the new homeowner agrees to be bound by the CCRs as part of the sale.

These CCRs, then, operate as a sort of private zoning law — neighbors agree to allow or disallow certain activities or behaviors within their neighborhood, typically intended to preserve quality of life and property values.  Historically, however, CCRs were used to preserve social segregation, such as restrictions on the races of people allowed to live in a particular subdivision.  Indeed, for a time, such discriminatory CCRs were approved of by the U.S. Supreme Court, on the theory that they were private agreements and thus not prohibited.  That changed in 1948, when the Supreme Court announced that racially-discriminatory CCRs are unenforceable.

Any time someone buys real estate, he or she needs to carefully read and review the CCRs governing that property, and review any concerns with an attorney.  Particularly in neighborhoods with strong and active homeowners’ associations, CCRs can and will be enforced.  So having a clear understanding of what the new owner is agreeing to do or not to do is an important consideration before buying into a neighborhood.

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