Deed restrictions are provisions in a deed that specify how land or other real property may be used. For instance, deed restrictions may designate a property for commercial or industrial use. Alternatively, deed restrictions may specify that access or right of way to the property must be maintained. In Texas, the Texas Property Code regulates deed restrictions and the process for amending deed restrictions.
Sparsely Populated Counties
The Texas Code provides four categories for the legislative rules for amending, changing or supplementing existing deed restrictions. The first category applies to properties in sparsely populated counties in which any of the following circumstances are met: The changes to deed restrictions are necessary in order for the property owner to qualify for a federally insured mortgage; the subdivision in which the property is located lacks a procedure for changing deed restrictions or the subdivision has a procedure for changing deed restrictions, however, provisions require a unanimous vote. To change deed restrictions, the property owner must file an amended deed in the country real property records, otherwise known as the county recorder of deeds. The amended deed must reference the Texas Property Code Section 25.003 as authority for amending, and it must have a majority of the association's (e.g. homeowners' or condo association) governing body sign it.
The second category outlines the method by which a governing body of property owners may amend deed restrictions the association has already adopted. For instance, a condo association may provide a deed restriction that units are painted uniformly. To amend this restriction, the governing body must initiate a vote among members and achieve two-thirds vote in favor of the change. Then, the proposed change to the deed restrictions must be submitted not later than 30 days of the vote to the each affected property owner with a ballot. Property owners may cast a ballot in favor of or against the change. Votes must be cast in secret, and no individual receives more than one vote, even if he owns multiple units. The presiding officer of the governing board certifies the results. If the majoring votes in favor of the change, it is passed. If the proposed change fails, the governing body must wait at least one year before initiating another vote on the subject.
Residential Subdivisions in Less Populated Counties
The third category provides a means changing deed restrictions in residential subdivisions located in counties with between 170,000 and 175,000 residents. In these areas, a petition process must be used to initiate change to deed restrictions. A property owners' association must send a petition to each affected homeowner's mailing address via certified mail with a return receipt requested. The petition must state the proposed change and provide a space for voters to approve or deny the change. At least 66 percent of homeowners must vote for the vote to be valid. A majority vote signals approval of the change, and the association or governing body shall then file the necessary documents (an amended deed) with the local recorder.
Residential Subdivisions in More Populated Counties
The fourth category provides for deed restriction changes in residential subdivisions that lie entirely or partially in counties with a population of 2.8 million or higher. In these locations, a property owners' association may approve a change and circulate a petition to enact the change. However, the petition may be circulated via first class mail, door-to-door, at a property owners' association meeting or any other method permitted in existing deed restrictions. If at least 75 percent of affected homeowners vote in favor of the change, the change must be officially recorded.