Homeowner Protection

To the Editor:

Sen. Tony Avella will be introducing legislation in the State Senate that would allow neighborhoods and other civic organizations, as well as individual homeowners, to register restrictive covenants and other types of deed restrictions with the New York City Dept. of Buildings. The DOB in turn would be required to inform homeowners and developers applying for permits to alter or rebuild on the preserved properties of the restrictions that exist.

Those applicants would then have to abide by the restrictions, if a permit were to be granted. This proposed legislation is receiving widespread support from civic groups and other community associations.

All too often, we see beautiful historic homes in our communities demolished or significantly altered, resulting in a new structure being built that is completely out of context with the other homes in the neighborhood. The rezonings have helped to curb this practice, as has landmarking homes or districts that have a unique historical context and/or sense of place. However, many homeowners still want to do more to ensure that their homes are preserved for the future after they pass away or sell their property. They have great respect for their communities and are willing to insert a restriction into their deeds that will protect their properties from inappropriate development in the years to come. Many civic groups also feel the same way and want to see that protective covenants that may already be in place are adhered to in perpetuity.

The problem up to now is just who will be enforcing these covenants and deed restrictions.  Usually the civic group has to take costly legal action in order to enforce these measures. Individual homeowners have no guarantee that their wishes will be carried out once they move away or die. By requiring the DOB to register these restrictions on their website, and informing permit applicants of what those restrictions are, the wishes of those placing the restrictions should be followed. Responsible realtors and homeowners should also be informing prospective buyers of any restrictions on a property before it is sold.

Sen. Avella’s proposed legislation needs to be passed. It is another tool in neighborhood preservation. Protecting homes that have historical, architectural, cultural or even personal significance is important in preserving the character of the communities that we love for future generations.

Henry Euler,