Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Sep 17, 2013

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Property owners are, of course, accumstomed to government regulation of property ownership and use through zoning restrictions, building restrictions, public easements, property taxation, nuisance laws that prevent blight and keep private property owners from disturbing the peace of their neighbors, and a host of safety regulations put in place to protect the general public. Private agreements can also limit a property owner’s use of his or her property. For example, privately contracted covenants, conditions and restrictions may limit the use of real property. These are typically referred to as “CC&Rs” in the real estate world. Lot size, architectural design, landscaping choices, vehicle parking, security monitoring and patrol, and even placement of satellite dishes and allowable paint colors for exterior surfaces can be subject to the conditions set forth in a purchase contract. These types of restrictions are common in planned housing communities and condominium complexes. Some communities are less restrictive than others, but by and large, buyers should do their research thoroughly before agreeing to restrictions they may later regret.

Private easements and rights-of-way, too, may be established without government intervention. Grant, implication and prescription are all mechanisms for enabling others to use a portion of your real property. Remedies for violation of private party agreements can include awards of monetary damages against the violator and/or injunctive relief (requiring removal of the violation and prohibiting such a violation in the future).

Along with your rights connected to ownership of property come numerous responsibilities and potential liabilities. Some examples include: 

(1) Mortgages – you may own property subject to a mortgage (if you fail to pay the mortgage, the lender will repossess the property); 

(2) Liens – a lien for payment of a debt can be placed against your property (such as a “mechanic’s lien” or “judgment lien”); and 

(3) Liability for Injury – if someone is injured on your property, you may be held liable for damages resulting from negligence or failure to maintain your property.