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Closing golf course finds itself center of real estate disputes

A new lawsuit has been filed against the owners of a golf course near Phoenix. Two residents of Ahwatukee Foothills filed the suit in an effort to receive a court injunction requiring restoration of the land to its former condition.

A local group known as Save the Lakes is dedicated to keeping the property operating as a golf course. Two residents, in particular, are filing the suit in lieu of using the group’s name, however, because they own actual land in the area. The lawsuit centers on accusing the golf course owners of violating the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions over the land. The golf course owners have reportedly been losing money operating the course and instead have made tentative plans with a homebuilder to allow the production of 250 homes in the area if the current land restrictions are changed. Save the Lakes is not unfamiliar with real estate disputes like this. A previous litigation attempt against a separate corporation to save tennis courts near the area was unsuccessful, though that particular case did not revolve around CC&Rs.

CC&Rs constitute a contract between the landowner and those who benefit from it. They are sometimes considered a deed restriction whose legal effect is to govern the use of real property. CC&Rs are binding upon a purchaser, whether or not they have been reviewed or understood. However, every contract includes an inherent requirement of good faith and fair dealing, where neither party attempts to deprive the other of what was bargained for. In order for a covenant to run with the land, it must be included in the deed or the Statute of Frauds requirements must be met.

While CC&Rs can be beneficial to maintaining the type of use or natural beauty of a designated area, they can also lead to many property disputes. Improperly designated CC&Rs can cause great confusion and difficulty for future purchasers as well.

Source: Ahwatukee Foothills News, “Homeowners file lawsuit against Lakes Golf Course owners,” Allison Hurtako, Oct. 17, 2014

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