What Is Running With the Land?

"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 when the property changes hands. The rights are tied to the property (land) and not to the owner and move from deed to deed as the land is transferred from one owner to another.

Key Takeaways

  • Running with the land describes the rights in a real estate deed that remain with the land regardless of ownership.
  • Running with the land rights move from deed to deed as the land is transferred from one owner to another.
  • There are two types of covenants that run with the land: affirmative, something that the owner is obligated to do, and restrictive, something that property owners must refrain from doing.

Understanding Running With the Land

There are two types of covenants that are said to run with the land: affirmative and restrictive. An affirmative covenant sets out something that the property owners are obligated to do while a restrictive covenant outlines something that the property owners must refrain from doing. Owners are described as "burdened" by affirmative covenants and they must "enforce" restrictive covenants.

An example of an affirmative covenant that would run with the land is one that requires all homes on the land to be at least a specified square footage. An example of a restrictive covenant that would run with the land might be that no livestock is permitted on the property. Covenants that run with the land are intended to guide orderly land development.

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 wherein adjacent lands held by different owners establish covenants that run with the land. This usually is the case when an owner with two adjacent pieces of property sells one parcel to a new owner. The original owner may come to an agreement with the new owner of the second parcel as to how the land can be used in the future. Such a relationship is called horizontal privity, and the agreed-upon covenants would also run with the land for future owners of the second parcel.

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 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.

Special Considerations for Running With the Land

The granting of rights under easements, where an owner allows a party to use a piece of their property in some way, typically does 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.