Can My Buyer Put a Work-Shed in the Backyard?

Question

My Buyer really likes a particular home in a particular neighborhood, but he wants to put a work shed in the backyard.  We’re not sure if this is allowed.

What should I do to ensure my Buyer is able to put a work shed in the back yard?

Answer

Since you already know your Buyer wants to put a work shed in the back yard, this means you’ve already discussed with your Buyer his intentions for his future home.

Great job, you’ve already completed the first step and you’re ahead of the game!  (Many agents don’t even have this detailed discussion with their clients!!)

A good second step would be to make the Purchase Agreement contingent on Buyer being able to put a work shed in the back yard. 

For this step, you’d want to put a clause in the Purchase Agreement that if Buyer is prohibited by the Restrictive covenants or other zoning ordinances from placing a work shed in the back yard, then Buyer can cancel the Purchase Agreement with no further liability to Buyer and Buyer is entitled to return of the Deposit (or words to that effect).

A good third step is to obtain for your Buyer a copy of the restrictive covenants of the neighborhood to see if a work shed is allowed.

If the Restrictive Covenants prohibit a work shed in the back yard, your Buyer’s hopes and desires “might not” be crushed, quite yet.

There’s still the possibility that your Buyer (or Seller) can amend the Restrictive Covenants or obtain a variance to the Restrictive Covenants.

According to Louisiana Civil Code Article 780, restrictive covenants shall be amended in accordance with the provisions of the document creating them.  In other words, most Restrictive Covenants state what is necessary to amend them.

If the Restrictive Covenants do not state what is required for an amendment, then La. Civ. Code Art. 780 states:

  1. If the Restrictions have been in effect for at least 15 years, then they may be amended by agreement of owners representing more than one-half of the land area affected by the restrictions; or
  2. If the Restrictions have been in effect for at least 10 years, then they may be amended by agreement of owners representing two-thirds of the land area affected by the restrictions.

 

For newer neighborhoods where the developer still owns many of the lots (i.e. neighborhoods where Restrictions have been in place for 0-10 years), usually the developer is the only person needed to amend the restrictive covenants.

The process for obtaining a variance of the Restrictive Covenants is usually governed by the Architectural Control Committee or Home Owners Association (HOA) for the neighborhood.

If you need a copy of any Restrictive Covenants for any neighborhood in Acadiana, we have virtually all of them in our database!  Please do not hesitate to contact us for a copy.  We’re here for you and your clients!!