Submitted by Lfcfan2187 t3_123t1jv in Maine

Has anyone had luck with getting land covenants removed years later?

When we bought our property years ago, there were several different land use covenants that really didn't bother us at the time. With one of them being a restriction on livestock. However, now we want to get a few chickens to raise.

Has anyone had luck getting land covenants removed? Or knowledge if the Right To Food act passed in 2021 would override these types of restrictions?

Thank you and Happy Monday

Edit: I am planning on talking with the original land owner first but was wondering if others had similar situations or experience with changes to them in regards to the Right To Food Amendment. Always trying to plan ahead for worst case scenarios. Thank you everyone for your input



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Guygan t1_jdwl1zi wrote

You need a lawyer.


Lfcfan2187 OP t1_jdwmw5f wrote

I won't be surprised if it comes down to it


Guygan t1_jdww3c7 wrote

Your best "wedge" to crack this situation is to research the traditional meaning of "livestock" under Maine and US common law, and see if it includes chickens.


Antnee83 t1_jdzw3rk wrote

I've been down that path myself.

Each municipality can have it's own rules, and typically if they don't spell it out, they refer to state code which is incredibly vague.


Guygan t1_jdzztaz wrote

Municipal rules don’t have much to do with interpretation of a deed restriction.


Antnee83 t1_je022tr wrote

If simply "livestock" is referenced, then I bet it does. Because the definition of "livestock" in Maine is not at all clear. That's what I'm getting at. Each municipality defines it differently.


Guygan t1_je02t4m wrote

The town’s definition of livestock is kinda irrelevant to this.

Source: real estate attorney.


Antnee83 t1_je02xwx wrote

Funny, I was gonna tack on "ain't you a damn lawyer?"

But isn't the deed registered with the town?


Guygan t1_je0meom wrote

Not “registered” but rather filed at the County registry of deeds for “notice” purposes.


ppitm t1_jdwxfeg wrote

Chickens are not always considered livestock. Depends on the jurisdiction.


hike_me t1_jdwkl4s wrote

So my deed has restrictions on livestock from when it was subdivided.

I asked my real estate lawyer neighbor about it but he basically said “I can’t give you legal advice but I don’t care if you have chickens — in fact I might get some myself”.

Unless you have a neighbor that 1) knows about the covenants and 2) is an asshole nothing will happen.


Lfcfan2187 OP t1_jdwo2g3 wrote

That's great that you have the option. I think it has become a standard addition for any subdivision. He definitely knows the covenants but not sure how much he will push the enforcement of it


Longjumping_West_907 t1_jdx03w2 wrote

NAL, but enforcing deed restrictions is up to the entity that put the restrictions in place. If that entity is a person you might just ask them about it. I know someone who has property with restrictions put in place by a land trust. They can ask the trust to modify the covenants, no guarantee that it will happen. Try the simplest solution first and see what happens.


Subject_Meat5314 t1_jdx67yj wrote

Agree. The answer is first to just call/write the guy and ask. Then if it’s agreed on, you can either just document the agreement and live with the risk that he might be a dick about it later, or go through the process of actually lifting the covenant.

The only reason not to do this is if you’d rather just act first and apologize later which might be fine, or might be a huge legal nightmare, ruin goodwill with your neighbor, and worst of all make you live under the cloud of fear that you’ll run into those things (that last one is just the way my mind works. I hope you are healthier than me.)


Lfcfan2187 OP t1_jdx56dn wrote

Completely agree, will try the most diplomatic approach. Was curious if anyone else had run into it more with the change in Maine constitution change


siebzy t1_jdwc2bw wrote

Are these restrictions in the deed to the property?


Lfcfan2187 OP t1_jdwclz2 wrote

Yup, tied to the deed


siebzy t1_jdwkwmr wrote

Interested in what shakes out here, as my family also has a property with a deed restriction that my father believes will prevent us from building an ADU despite the recent state law overriding the existing municipal code restrictions.


King_O_Walpole t1_jdwm5xv wrote

The whole ADU is a cluster pie for sure!!

I’m on my local planning board re-writing some ordinances to comply with state law.

Interesting enough it’s not as bad as it looks at first, it’s mostly dealing with housing density.

Hopefully they pass an amendment that LD2003 will only impact towns with less than 10,000 population


w1nn1ng1 t1_jdwrzg1 wrote

We just built a house 2 years ago. Originally, we were looking at private lots on private roads with HOAs. Our real estate agent said, if at all possible, to avoid property with covenants attached to a deeded property. Reason being: its damn near impossible to get them removed unless the original conveyors agreed to have them removed and then the deed needs to be re-written.


derpingandlurking t1_jdwbywc wrote

There can be a restrictive covenant my deed specifically says no livestock as well.


FiddleheadII t1_je0b8e1 wrote

Bottom line: consult with the person who put the covenant on the deed. They may be willing to acknowledge, in writing, that for the purposes of the deed restriction that chickens do not constitute livestock. At the very least they may consent to hens only if you're willing to forgo roosters in your flock.


Lady-Kat1969 t1_jdzazol wrote

Covenants and other deed finagling can be undone if you have a good enough lawyer and are stubborn enough. That's how my hometown lost its swimming hole; it got bought by jackasses who bought the land, took the matter to court multiple times, and finally found/bought a judge who ruled in their favor. Tore down the historic schoolhouse that was on the property, put up "No Trespassing" signs everywhere, and built a crappy ranch house with beige vinyl siding. Oddly enough, they didn't last long in the town.

Your case sounds different though, so it could be less trouble and your neighbours are much less likely to hate you, especially if you have extra eggs available at reasonable prices.


Sufficient_Risk1684 t1_jdzw79s wrote

That's an interesting question since it's now a constitutional right. Deed restriction have been tossed before on constitutional violations, ( race and religious restrictions)

I'm not sure any litigation at all has been settled over that amendment yet, as it's broad and vague. The only case I've seen is over Sunday hunting.


Squidworth89 t1_jdw98r3 wrote

Who’s stopping you from getting chickens? It’s your land.


Guygan t1_jdww9bu wrote

> Who’s stopping you from getting chickens

Did you even read the post?


Lfcfan2187 OP t1_jdwcqld wrote

Unfortunately, the prior land owner put in restrictions or covenants


Squidworth89 t1_jdwdwxo wrote

and who’s enforcing it?


Lfcfan2187 OP t1_jdwejl5 wrote

The prior land owner can, although he is not in the state full time. Could take us to court for violation of the deed with either removal and/or fine


lobstah t1_jdwi2mn wrote

Have you asked him specifically about just chickens ? Maybe they just didn't want a hog farm next door. Usually, removing a covenant amounts to reaching a mutual agreement with possible compensation.


Lfcfan2187 OP t1_jdwitq1 wrote

Yeah it will come down to it, but unknown when he will be back in the state. Stays south most of the year, but will need to when hes back in the state. And yeah, there will most likely need to be compensation haha


lobstah t1_jdwlsbs wrote

As well as any fees (attorney, county , town ?)


metalandmeeples t1_jdwb1jz wrote

Probably an HOA.


Guygan t1_jdxuonk wrote

> Probably an HOA

NO. Read the actual post. It's a deed restriction.


metalandmeeples t1_jdxve75 wrote

I did read the post. It says covenants which are typically from an HOA. We can let the OP clear this up.


Antnee83 t1_jdzwio9 wrote

I'll answer you in earnest, because I get why this is not intuitive.

Say you have 20 acres, and you want to split off an acre and sell it to someone else. But you don't want that "someone else" to be... I dunno, a pig farmer. (Because pig farms stink)

You can put a (reasonable, legal) restriction on the deed. "No pigs allowed." So even if someone buys that land, they cannot break that deed restriction and set up a pig farm.

If they do, it's off to court you go, where you will most assuredly win.


MathematicianGlum880 t1_jdww0t1 wrote

I don’t understand how, you bought land from someone, so it’s no longer their land. It has restrictions on the deed, because the prior land owner put them there, but he no longer owns the land. One would think that you could have the restrictions removed considering he’s no longer involved. Seems a bit on side of being crazy.


Subject_Meat5314 t1_jdx5etv wrote

The way it works is the former landowner agrees to lowering the value of the land (or even to sell in the first place) only if certain conditions are met by the future landowner. The benefit to the future landowner is lower cost to purchase or just the ability to purchase in the first place. If the current owner no longer wants to abide by the restriction, then there is appropriately some work to be done to revise the deal.

Why wouldn’t it make sense for me to sell half my land to someone only under the specific legally binding condition that they don’t turn it into something I don’t want to live near? Especially if that person explicitly and knowingly agrees?


Earthling1a t1_jdx5zn8 wrote

No different than a right of way. If I have a deeded ROW over your land, and you sell it to Jake DeBrusk, I still have that right of way whether he likes it or not.