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What Are CC&Rs?

When you move into a condo or housing development, you will often be asked to sign a catch-all deed of declarations called "Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions" (CC&Rs).

But what exactly are CC&Rs?

What CC&Rs Are

CC&Rs provide an itemized list of what is and isn't permitted in the development. These restrictions can regulate a number of homeowners' activities ranging from construction and land use to aesthetic choices and even smoking.

Most planned developments, including closed or gated residential areas, as well as condominium associations and housing cooperatives, use CC&Rs to benefit residential owners and their neighbors.

The general idea is that properties with CC&Rs tend to: better retain and increase property value, look nicer, consistently comply with state and local laws, and keep neighbors happy.

They can be enforced by neighborhood associations or single homeowners.

Penalties for Violating CC&Rs

If you're a fan of the spice of variety -- or smoking -- be careful about violating CC&Rs.

Penalties for violating CC&Rs may include fines, forced compliance, a lawsuit by the property management, the misery of being "that guy" in the complex, and a fair amount of humiliation and inconvenience.

CC&Rs Advice: Read 'Em Early And Read 'Em Carefully

Even when you're completely charmed by a house or enchanted by the crown molding, don't sign a purchase agreement before you carefully read the CC&Rs that come with the property.

It's common practice for title companies to bring copies of the CC&Rs on the day of closing -- when it's essentially an afterthought. That practice will come back to haunt you when you discover after-the-fact that you can't keep your boat on your property or install a basketball hoop.

Alas, under the theory of "constructive notice," purchasers are typically subject to CC&Rs whether or not they actually reviewed, read, or understood them.

Fighting CC&Rs

If you've already been locked into CC&Rs, you may be trying to finagle your way out of them. Unfortunately, changing them can be tricky.

That being said, certain issues -- such as pets, parking spaces, recreational facilities, and subleasing -- can become unavoidable sticking points.

In such cases, speaking to a real estate attorney may be the best way to explore your options.

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