Hillcrest Forest Neighborhood Association
Serving over 1,500 Homes in North Dallas
Deed Restrictions

Note:  Our Association does not take a position on the issue of 1-story or 2-story
homes.
 

The subdivisions in our neighborhood were built by many different
developers.  Each has its own deed restrictions.  Some have none.  
Visually, you can seldom tell where one subdivision ends and another
one begins.  You can find the name of the subdivision for any address
by going to the Dallas Central Appraisal District
web site.  For each
property, the subdivision is stated at the top, under "Legal
Description".

As the homes in our neighborhood age, we see many of them being
remodeled, expanded, and sometimes torn down and replaced with
new construction.  In the long run, remodeling and new homes can
have a positive impact on our property values -- especially if they
replace a poorly-maintained older home.  We have many beautiful 2-
story homes in our neighborhood.  On the other hand, many residents
prefer the look of the original ranch-style homes.

What options do you have if you want to build, or if your neighbor's
house is demolished to make way for a much larger home?  It
depends.  There are several things to know:

FIRST, the City sets certain limits such as height and setbacks on
front and side yards, but does not enforce private deed restrictions.
 
Much of our neighborhood is zoned R-16 (minimum 16,000 foot lots),
with these limits in the City code:

  • Height:  30 feet (measured to the mid-point of the roof) -- the
    city standard for single family residential.
  • Front setback:  at least 35 feet (plus about 11 feet of city-owned
    "right of way" at the street).

As long as construction complies with these and other standard
building codes, the City will usually approve it.  Also, the City doesn't
regulate design, window locations, materials or colors.  

SECOND, many of the original developers added private deed
restrictions to their lots at the time they were sold.
 In our
neighborhood, the covenants typically date back to the 1950's.  The
restrictions may limit the number of stories, establish greater
setbacks, etc.  Usually all lots in a particular subdivision have the
same restrictions.  The City will not enforce those; they can only be
enforced by other owners within that same subdivision, at their
personal expense.  Homes that are in different legal subdivisions with
different deed restrictions are not involved.

A copy of the Deed Restrictions is usually provided to home buyers at
closing.  If you don't have them, your neighbors may have a copy.  
They can also be found -- after some challenging research -- with the
deed filed at the Dallas County Records building (not at the city).

THIRD, once a structure is built, it can be difficult to have it removed.
Some covenants require front yard set-backs greater than the City's
minimum.  If that is the case on your street and you see a foundation
being prepared that is much further forward than the rest of the
homes on the street, they may be unaware that a deed restriction
requires a 40 or 50 foot setback instead of the City's 35-foot
minimum.  A home that does not align with the other homes can
change the look of the entire block.

If your concern is 1-story vs. 2 story, first look to see if there are
already two-story homes or second-story additions in
your own
subdivision
.  If there are several precedents, that particular deed
restriction may be unenforceable.  Homes outside your specific
subdivision are probably not relevant unless they share your deed
restrictions.

However, any property owner who shares the deed restrictions and
has legal standing can theoretically file suit, regardless of whether
they may prevail in court.

FOURTH, if you see a possible violation of a deed restriction which
concerns you, and you and believe that the restriction is valid, you
should quickly notify the owner or builder.
 They may be unaware.  
They may agree to correct it.  If that fails, you can consult with an
attorney.  If they believe that it is a valid restriction, a simple letter
from them, explaining the restriction, may resolve the issue.  If not,
court action is the last resort, but it can be expensive and uncertain
as to the outcome.

This is not legal advice and opinions can differ.  If you have any
questions, you should consult with an attorney.

Bottom line -- we all hope that any new construction will harmonize
with the look and ambiance that attracted all of us to the Hillcrest
Forest neighborhood.