Covenant FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Hampton Community Covenants

What is a “covenant?”

A covenant is a provision in a deed limiting the use of the property and prohibiting certain uses. It is a written promise or restriction on the use of land. Land developers typically use restrictive covenants when they subdivide property for residential developments. A land developer, after platting the subdivision into lots, blocks, and streets, will impose certain limitations on the use of the lots in the development. These may include a provision restricting the number of dwellings allowed per original lot (e.g. no subdivision), or may limit construction to single-family dwellings with no detached outbuildings, or may specify that the dwellings are to be built at least a specified distance from the street and from the side and back lot lines, commonly called a “set back” requirement. There may be a variety of other restrictive covenants that seek to control the way the development looks and is preserved. These covenants are part of the ‘source deed’ and the approved Subdivision Plat Record and are therefore binding on all subsequent owners. Top of page

What is the meaning of “run with the land?”

A protective covenant, which is a written promise or restriction on the use of land, is said to ‘run with the land’ when the obligation to perform it or the right to take advantage automatically passes to the one to whom the land is transferred. Most covenants run with the land in perpetuity; occasionally covenants may provide a process for changing some provisions if a certain percentage of homeowners agree. Top of page

What is a “covenant source deed?”

The Hampton community was developed plat by plat, over a period of more than 40 years. As each subdivision was created, John Ridgely or his heirs deeded each subdivision tract to his development company. As a general rule, this original deed (the deed between John Ridgely and his development company conveying the entire subdivision plat) is the instrument by which the Ridgely family attached protective covenants to the land they were selling at the perimeter of the family estate. Thus it is referred to in these web pages as the ‘source deed of the covenants’. Because Hampton development took place over the course of many years, new source deeds were created for every subdivision and plat. With each new plat the covenants were tweaked in response to current conditions and trends. If your covenants are slightly different from your neighbor’s your property may be located in a different plat and thus subject to a different source deed. (A development timeline is presented below.) Top of page

What is a “plat record?”

A plat record is a map which establishes a plat or subdivision and identifies all of its individual lots. The map is approved by the county and recorded in the Baltimore County land records. Top of page

What is a “setback?”

A setback is the distance a structure, fence, etc. may be placed on a lot in relation to its front, side, rear, or public road boundary line. It is usually specified by language in the subdivision source deed and noted on the corresponding Plat of Record (subdivision map). All these documents are on file with the Baltimore County Land Records Office, and many of the original subdivision plat maps of record may be found on the Hampton community web site. Top of page

How do I find the original covenants for my property?

The only way to be absolutely certain of the protective covenants on file relating to your individual deed is to go to the Baltimore County Land Records Office and search the title history of your property. There are many approaches to this: print your property summary from this web site and take it to the front desk at the Land Records Office and ask for assistance. The clerk will advise you the best way to approach the task. Also you may look up valuable information about your property at the Maryland Tax Assessment web site. Information gathered from this web site is another useful tool to take with you to the County Land Records Office. Tell the clerk you want to search your title back to its creation in the original subdivision. More often than not, you have to search back many deed transfers through time to find a reference to the Restrictive Covenants attached to the land at the time it was developed. Ultimately, you will end up at the Covenant Source Deed noted in the property information available on this site. Top of page

I live in Hampton, but I can’t find my property on the interactive map. What do I do?

There are a few properties in Hampton which were not created by a major subdivision plat and deed. Though many of these homeowners are active members of our community association and are considered an integral part of our neighborhood, their properties may not be reflected on Hampton plat maps because the properties were not created as part of a Hampton subdivision. The Covenants Research Project is an ongoing committee and is still searching county records for deed information about a number of properties. Top of page

There are no covenants directly attached to my property deed and I was never informed by anyone that I have covenants. Do the covenants still apply to my property?

Yes. A restrictive covenant is a clause in a deed which limits what the owner of the land can do with the property. A person who purchases a lot in a development with restrictive covenants must honor the limitations. When the purchaser resells the lot to a buyer, the new owner will take the property subject to the restrictive covenants, because the covenants are said to “run with the land.” Lack of knowledge about covenants does not excuse a property owner from compliance. Violation of a covenant exposes a property owner to potential legal action by any or all neighbors on the same plat. Top of page

What does it mean that “every property owner within an individual plat has the authority to enforce plat covenants?”

Restrictive covenants allow surrounding property owners, who have similar covenants in their deeds, to enforce the terms of the covenants in a court of law. The covenants are intended to enhance property values by controlling development. If a person violates or attempts to violate one or more of the covenants, a person who is benefited by the covenants, usually an adjacent property owner or plat resident, may sue to enforce the restrictions. Top of page

A clause in my covenants has been invalidated by a court of law. Does this make the rest of my covenants invalid?

No, invalidation by a court of any one clause in a covenant in no way affects any of the other provisions, which remain in full force and effect. Top of page

The county has approved my building plans. Does that mean my plans meet the restrictive covenants?

No. A restrictive covenant differs from a zoning regulation in that covenant creation and enforcement is a matter of contract and can be enforced by plat residents subject to the same covenants.A Zoning law regulates the use of real property and is enforced by local government; it usually restricts a particular land area to residential, commercial, industrial, or other uses. The local governing body regulates density, setbacks, garage and building heights. Zoning laws are created in accordance with a comprehensive plan intended to avoid arbitrary exercise of government power.
Some zoning requirements are more restrictive than the Hampton covenants, and some are less restrictive. For example, in the instance of setbacks, the county may prohibit construction of a dwelling within a certain distance from a rear, side or front property line, while the Hampton covenants may allow it. In this instance the zoning law prevails and construction would require variance relief from the county. In other instances, the Hampton covenants may be more restrictive than the county. In this situation the county may give approval but the owner would still be in violation of the protective covenants which bind the land. If a property owner violates or attempts to violate one or more of the covenants, a person who is benefited by the covenants, usually an adjacent property owner, may sue in a court of law to enforce the restrictions.

Most of Hampton is currently zoned DR1 by Baltimore County, meaning the law permits one dwelling-unit per acre . Detailed information about Baltimore County zoning can be found in A Citizen’s Guide to Zoning in Baltimore County (PDF file) available from the Baltimore County Government web site.

For greater clarification about this often confusing topic please contact the HIA Architectural Review Committee. Top of page

Is there a timeline for Hampton development?

Yes, the following timeline of Hampton neighborhood development was created to demonstrate the complex evolution of land records. Top of page

Hampton Community Development Timeline

Click here to a pdf of the Hampton Community Development Timeline.

Below is a Detailed Chart of the Development Timeline
Date of Record Plat / Section Plat Map
(opens a PDF file)
Description Developer
Year Month
1930 — — Hampton Plat No. 1 9/109 The founding Hampton community plat established Hampton Co
1939 — — Hampton Plat No. 1 Revised 12/38 Plat of lots 40&42,and lots 44-54 inclusive, revised Hampton Co
1946 — — Hampton Mansion conveyed to USA
1947 — — Hampton Village 14/7 Hampton Village established; (a.k.a. Hampton Village Plat 1) Hampton Village Inc
1950 October* Hampton Plat 2, Section A 16/78 Plat and section established Hampton Inc Map
1951 January Hampton Garth 16/106 Plat established Land Record Holding Co
October Hampton Plat 2, Section B 17/71 Section established Hampton Inc
1952 July Hampton Village, Plat 2, Sec 1 18/45 Section established Laird, Rock & Small
October Hampton Village, Plat 2, Sec 2 18/59 Section established Laird,Rock & Small
1953 February Hampton Plat 2, Section C 19/130 Section established Hampton Inc
1954 June Hampton Village Plat 3, Sec A 20/74 Plat and section established Bay Country
August Hampton Plat D, Lots 1-5 20/32 Plat established Land Record Holding Co
1955 May Hampton Village, Plat 3, Sec B 21/73 Section established Bay Country
1956 February Hampton Village, Plat 3, revised 22/137 Revision to lots 13-18 in Section A and lots 63-64in Section B Bay Country
May Hampton Village, Plat 3, revised 23/43 Re-subdivision of Lots 19-28 in Section B Bay Country
December Hampton Plat 3, Section A 23/96 Plat and Section established Hampton Inc
1957 January Hampton Plat 3, Section B 24/56 Section established Hampton Inc
September Hampton Village, Plat 3 24/62 Re-subdivision of Lots 40 & 49 Bay Country
1958 September Hampton Village, St. Francis Section 25/73 Section and lots 1-4 established Jos. Strahlen
1959 August Hampton Plat 3, Section C 26/91 Section established Hampton Hills
December Hampton Plat 3, Section D 26/125 Section established Hampton Inc
1961 March Hampton Plat 3, Section E 27/64 Section established Hampton Inc
*estimated date-of-record

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DISCLAIMER

The information displayed on these web pages is not legal advice. The purpose of presenting this information is to increase interest and awareness of protective covenants that exist on most lots in the Hampton neighborhood. While due care was employed in compiling and presenting this information, it remains an all-volunteer effort of homeowners and not legal professionals. Therefore no legal significance or guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. All information presented here was gathered from public and/or publicly-accessible records. By reading and using the information on this page and other “Understanding Your Covenants” pages you agree not to hold the Hampton Improvement Association, its board members, representatives or volunteers responsible for any use or misuse of this information.