Planning and Development

About Deed Restrictions

What are Deed Restrictions?

Deed restrictions are written agreements that restrict, or limit, the use or activities that may take place on property in a subdivision. These restrictions appear in the real property records of the county in which the property is located. They are private agreements and are binding upon every owner in a subdivision. All future owners become a party to these agreements when they purchase property in deed restricted areas.

A primary purpose of most deed restrictions is preserving the residential character of a subdivision by keeping out commercial and industrial facilities. For people who prefer to live in a wholly residential environment, deed restrictions are desirable.Deed restrictions may legally prohibit a person from operating certain types of businesses from their home. In Houston, where property is not governed by deed restrictions, a property owner may be free to operate a commercial business in the neighborhood.

Most deed restrictions have an average life span of 25 to 30 years. Some are in effect “in perpetuity.” Many deed restrictions contain a provision for automatic renewal after the initial 25 to 30 year span, unless the owners take action to prevent renewal. Other deed restrictions, after the initial term of 25 to 30 years, must be renewed by written approval of a specified percent of property owners.

Residents may obtain a copy of deed restrictions for their subdivision from the County Clerk of the county in which they reside. Each county charges a nominal fee for copies of deed restrictions. Harris County residents should contact:

Harris County Clerk
201 Caroline
3rd Floor
Houston, Texas 77002

Deed restrictions are powerful tools to help preserve the character of a subdivision or neighborhood. However, creating and/or revising them is an often lengthy labor intensive process. In seeking to create or revise deed restrictions in a neighborhood, much of your time will be spent garnering neighbor support.

Sample Deed Restrictions:

How do residents report deed restriction violations?

Complaints may be filed against deed restriction violators by completing a Deed Restrictions Complaint form and submitting it to:

City of Houston Legal Department
Revenue and Compliance Division
Attn: Deed Restrictions Enforcement Team
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX 77251-1562

Complaints can also be filed through the Deed Restriction Hotline at 832.393.6333.

For more information, visit the COH Legal Department's webpage for Deed Restrictions.