DEFINITION of Running With the Land

The expression "running with the land" refers to the rights and covenants in a real estate deed that remain with the land, regardless of ownership. When rights and covenants run with the land, they are tied to the property (land) and not to the owner. Those rights move from deed to deed as the land is transferred from one owner to another.

BREAKING DOWN Running With the Land

There are two types of covenants that are said to run with the land. An affirmative covenant states something that property owners are obligated to do. A restrictive covenant specifies something that property owners must refrain from doing. Owners are said to be "burdened" by affirmative covenants and must "enforce" restrictive covenants.

An example of an affirmative covenant that would run with the land is that all homes must be at least a specified square footage. An example of a restrictive covenant that would run with the land might be that no livestock are permitted on the property.

Covenants that run with the land are intended to guide orderly land development.

The Relationship of Running With the Land Rights With Easements and Privity

The enforcement or burden of covenants that run with the land can be governed by terms of privity and can come into play with certain easements.

There are cases where adjacent lands held by different owners establish covenants that run with the land. This usually comes into play when an owner with two adjacent pieces of property sells the one parcel to a new owner. The original owner may come to an agreement with the new owner of the second parcel about how the land can be used in the future. Such a relationship is called horizontal privity and the agreed upon covenants would run with the land for future owners of the second parcel as well.

In a comparable example, if the owner of two adjacent properties leased one parcel to a tenant and they agreed upon rights and covenants regarding its usage, this would also constitute horizontal privity. The covenants they establish would again run with the land for the second parcel.

For estates and property that is inherited or other was passed down directly to new owners, this is known as vertical privity. Covenants established by the prior owner could run with the land upon transfer to future owners.

The granting of rights under easements, where an owner allows a party to use a piece of their property in some way, typically do not transfer. An appurtenant easement can be granted in certain circumstances, allowing those rights to run with the land. For example, if the owner of a piece of land discovered an oil deposit on their property, they might grant drilling rights to an oil company that owned a neighboring piece of land. If the property owner later sells their land, the drilling rights granted to the oil company would run with the land.

Appurtenant easements are typically only legal when granted by a property owner to the owner of an adjacent property.