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Negative Reciprocal Easements

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Facts:  In this declaratory judgment action involving neighboring landowners in a residential development, the trial court determined that the restrictive covenants applicable to the development would prevent the defendant from constructing a commercial business on his property. The trial court accordingly entered an injunction preventing the defendant from constructing a business on his real property.

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court agreed with the trial court that the plaintiff had proven the existence of an implied negative reciprocal easement that restricted the use of the defendant’s lots to solely residential purposes. The deeds specifically stated that the conveyances of the lots were subject to “valid restrictive covenants and easements, if any, appearing of record.” This, along with the residential nature of the neighborhood, gave rise to the necessity that the defendant inquire as to whether any applicable restrictive covenants or easements existed.” Moreover, there was insufficient evidence of abandonment from changed conditions.

Review Granted:  July 17, 2020.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will affirm for the reasons stated by the intermediate court.