Question

I have written a PSA on land that has an alcohol restriction. The 1910 deed restricts consumption of alcohol on the land by the grantee and the grantee's assigns. Violation of the restriction results in a reversion of title to the grantor. Most brokers tell me it’s unenforceable. Is it enforceable in Washington? If so, how can it be removed. I spoke with an attorney at Rockwell Institute regarding that question on the exam. He explained that it is enforceable, however, the seller would have to sue the buyer in order for title to revert to the seller. It’s not automatic. Do you know if the situation is the same in Washington? If so, what needs to be done to remove the restriction?

Answer

The Rockwell lawyer is probably correct. If the restriction has not already been rendered unenforceable by abandonment and lack of enforcement then it is still a covenant restricting use of the land. However, the Rockwell lawyer is also correct that in order to be "enforceable" somebody must enforce the restriction. It is unclear who, in 2021, is going to enforce this 1910 deed restriction. Still, neither the Hotline lawyer nor broker can advise buyer with respect to this issue. Broker should advise buyer to consult the title officer who will insure title regarding the enforceability of this provision. If the title officer cannot give buyer an answer to the question, broker should advise buyer to consult legal counsel.

Date of Posting

1/13/2021

Legal Disclaimer

The Legal Hotline Lawyer does not represent Washington REALTORS® or its members. The advice contained herein does not constitute legal counsel. Please consult with your managing broker for best practices.

Association Name

SPOKANE ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®