Legal Department

Deed Restrictions General Information

 

Welcome to the Office of the City Attorney’s Deed Restriction Enforcement Team Home Page.  This page is dedicated to expanding the public’s knowledge of how the Legal Department’s Deed Restriction Enforcement Team can assist Houston residents and neighborhoods.  The section entitled PROVING A DEED RESTRICTION VIOLATION explains to potential complainants what information the City needs to investigate a complaint.  There is also a section entitled FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS addressing deed restriction issues and a section regarding the DEED RESTRICTION COMPLAINT FORM for use in reporting alleged violations of deed restrictions.  Finally, there is also a section containing a deed restriction violation activity log to assist in the documentation of suspected deed restriction violations.


This page provides general information regarding the City’s authority to enforce residential deed restrictions.
Pursuant to Chapter 212 of the Texas Local Government Code and Article XV of Chapter 10, Sections 10-551 through 10-555, of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances, the City is authorized to enforce, by suit for injunction, certain restrictions that affect subdivisions within the City.  Restrictions mean limitations that:

 

  • Affect the use to which real property may be put;
  • Fix the distance that a structure must be set back from property lines, street lines, or lot lines;
  • Affect the size of a lot or the size, type and number of structures that may be built on the lot;
  • Regulate orientation of a structure; or
  • Regulate certain fences requiring a building permit.

 

If you have questions regarding deed restrictions or if you wish to lodge a complaint about a violation that falls within the above-listed categories of restrictions enforced by the City, please call the Deed Restriction Hotline at 832-393-6333, or if you wish to lodge a written complaint, please print out and complete the Deed Restriction Complaint Form and mail it to:


City of Houston Legal Department
Neighborhood Services Section
Attn: Deed Restriction Enforcement Team
P.O. Box 368
Houston, TX 77001-0368


The Deed Restriction Enforcement Team acts as an enforcement authority.  (We are the section of the City that takes people to civil court when they violate the above-listed deed restrictions).  Attorneys from the City’s Legal Department explain to citizens, civic organizations, and other individuals about the City’s program for enforcement of deed restrictions but are prohibited by law from giving legal advice or offering a legal opinion to any individual member of the public.  Attorneys may not, for example, provide legal advice to an individual who seeks assistance in circumventing the valid deed restrictions.  Frequently, after having been advised that parking a commercial vehicle on the property violates deed restrictions, the resident will attempt to elicit a legal opinion or legal advice by inquiring as to whether parking the commercial vehicle in an area that would  render it invisible from the street or to other residents.  The attorney may not provide legal advice regarding this matter.  In other instances, Civic Associations and residents seek legal advice on how to proceed with an amendment or creation of deed restrictions.  They may also seek legal advice on specific amendments tailored to specific violations within their community.  Again, the attorney may not offer a legal opinion or advice regarding these matters.  Residents and organizations may seek the services of a private attorney or various organizations including Houston Lawyer Volunteer Program at (713) 228-0732, Gulf Coast Legal Foundation at (713) 652-0077, Houston Lawyer Referral Services at (713) 237-9429, Lone Star Legal Aid at (713) 982-1960 or Thurgood Marshall Civil Law Legal Clinic at (713) 313-7275.


Some issues may appear to be deed restriction violations, but, in fact, are covered by other City of Houston Ordinances.  In these instances, the Deed Restriction Enforcement Team will refer the matter to the appropriate City department.  Additionally, some ordinance violations may be reported to 311.