Restrictive Covenants Enforceable in Property Dispute Between Neighbors

On December 16, 1940, a restrictive covenant was recorded for the subdivision Denison Heights, where the parties live. That covenant provided that no structure shall be erected on a lot other than a detached single family dwelling. Although the restrictive covenant was recorded, it was not contained in the Cochrans’ deed when they purchased the property. In 2003, the Cochrans built a 30-foot tall “shop building.”

The court held that the restrictive covenant was not ambiguous and there had not been a change in conditions sufficient to warrant invalidation. Most of all, the court rejected the Cochrans’ defenses of waiver and estoppel because the Cochrans testified they still would have built the shop even if they had known about the restrictive covenant.


Neighbors Take Property by Adverse Possession

The Boyds purchased their property in 1981; it had a fence that separated property to the east, which the Roberts purchased in 1990. In 2002 the Boyds surveyed their property and found their boundary extended up to 96 feet inside the Roberts side of the fence. The Boyds sold the property to Winningham in 2004, who began tearing down the fence until he was enjoined by the trial court. After the Roberts v. Boyd decision, the trial court held the Roberts had adversely possessed the disputed property.

The Court of Appeals based its decision on the fact that the Roberts tended to the disputed tract of land. They spread fertilizer and planted grass as an exhibit of ownership. The court agreed that the Roberts satisfied all elements of adverse possession and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.