Equitable Servitude = only requirement is that a prior owner agreed to a restriction and a subsequent owner knew about it. Restriction will be enforced regardless of whether the restriction is also enforceable as something else
All the rules about easements that says that not every kind of interest can be created as an easement don’t exist when it comes to equitable servitude = modern open-ended policy sensitive doctrine that says when C acquires from B, with notice of B’s deal with A which makes the land less valuable, cannot get out of the deal
If when you purchase the land you know there is a restriction on it, that restriction applies to you you probably got the land at a lower price because of it, so wouldn’t be fair to let you ignore it
Requirements of equitable servitude
i. Person owning land agrees to restriction.
ii. Successor has knowledge of restriction.
Equitable servitudes used to enforce restrictions
Tulk v. Moxhay (1848) – Conveyance of land from A to B. B agrees to maintain a portion of that land as a park in a square. B sells to C, who has full notice of B’s agreement. C says the covenant does not run with the land and is therefore not enforceable
Court says that since C bought with notice of the restriction and would not be fair to not uphold the restriction
Trustees of Columbia College v. Lynch (1877) – An owner may subject his land to any servitude and transmit them to others charged with the same and one taking title to land with notice of any outstanding right or claim affecting the right or use of the land, results in equity of servitude = statement of rule of equitable servitudes
Shade v. M. O’Keeffe, Inc. (1927) – 2 neighbouring pieces of property - A running grocery store on his property, B agrees not to open a grocery store on his property. C buys from B for the purpose of opening a grocery store.A says that since C bought with notice of restriction it would be inequitable to allow him to get out of it
Court says the restriction is contrary to public policy because the purpose of the restriction is to reduce competition, which is a good thing
Public policy prevents enforcement of the covenant
Hercules Powder Co. v. Continental Can Co. (1955) – Restriction was no one will enter business that will use pine or other wood products. Here the restriction is connected to the development of the land, and not just a restriction of competition like Shade v. O’keefe
Petersen v. Beekmere, Inc. (1971) – Requirement of those buying interest in subdivision must also buy share of company that will manage recreation center is not allowed. Some people in subdivision not required to buy shares but can still use rec center. Unclear how will tax these people and also allows for-profit company to tax homeowners in arbitrary manner. This is all contrary to public policy.
Harrod v. Rigelhaupt (1973) – Common plan for neighborhood - if landowner has common plan for neighborhood, successor must follow covenant. Here restriction was not to build homes higher than 15 feet. D was enjoined from finishing addition to house because it was too high
This is a coherent plan that has in mind preserving the views of everyone in the development
There was due notice, it is equitable and reasonable so it is enforceable