Facts: D own two adjacent parcels of property that were part of separate subdivisions at
different times. One was part of Skywood Acres, originally owned by the Stadlers who
recorded, in the 1958, a “desire to establish a general plan for improvement and
development of said property and to subject said property to the following conditions,
restrictions and covenants and reservations upon and subject to which all of said property
shall be held, improved and conveyed. Among these restrictions are: each lot shall be
used for residential purposes only, that only small animals may be kept as household pets
and are not kept, bred, or raised for commercial purposes or in an unreasonable number,
allows for the keeping of horses on specified lots under certain conditions. It also states,
“All these conditions and restrictions shall run with the land and shall be binding upon all
parties and all persons claiming under them…” and further provdes that Stadlers and
“their grantees and successors in interest of any lot or lots are to be “covenants running
with the land” enforceable by “the subdividers, grantees or assignes, or by such owners or
successors in interest.” D’s deed does not contain any of these restrictions. The other
parcel, a subdivision of the Town of Woodside adopted certain recorded conditions as
well, including single family residences, specifically excluding every form of business,
commercial, manufacturing, or storage enterprises or activity
Issue: Did the restrictions ever took effect in the first place so as to bind the original
grantees? If so, do these restrictions run with the land such as to bind the successors as
well as the original grantees?
Holding: Reversed. If a declaration establishing a common plan for ownership of
property in a subdivision and containing restrictions upon the use of property as part of
the common plan, is recorded before the execution of the contract of sale, describes the
property it is to govern, and states, that it is to bind all purchasers and their successors,
subsequent purchasers who have constructive notice of the recorded declarations are
deemed to intend and agrees to be bound by, and to accept the benefits of, the common
plan; the restrictions therefore, are not unenforceable merely because they are not
additionally cited in a deed or other document at the time of the sale
Rationale:
– This case is distinguishable from Werner and Riley because in Werner, there was
no recorded document imposing uniform restrictions, and in Riley, the restriction
recorded after the conveyance at issue.
– The rule the court determines has many advantages:
1. Simplicity. One document, recorded for all purchasers to review, would
establish the rules for all parcels, not many documents that may or may not be
mutually consistent
2. Fulfills the intent, expectations, and wishes of the parties and community as
a whole. A buyer need only know of the single document, not study the current
labyrinthine system and try to predict how a later court would apply it to the
contemplated purchase
3. Better enable the community to protect its interests. In this case, the
community was able to exercise oversight as to the original recorded declaration.
It is unrealistic to expect such oversight for all subsequent individual deeds.
4. Fairness. All buyers could easily know exactly what they are purchasing.
Title searches easier
– the rule is also consistent with the rationale of the prior cases, and would
undermine no legal or policy concerns expressed in those cases
– the theoretical underpinning of the rule requiring the restrictions to be stated in
the deeds is that a developer cannot unilaterally make an agreement. It takes a
grantor and a grantee.
***This indicates that the developer should produce and record a plan. This however, is
a minority case. Most states only require sufficient evidence of the developer’s plan, it
need not even be in writing. (ex. an advertisement or an oral statement of the intention of
the plan)***
***The Statute is Frauds is not binding in equity***