Real Property – Restrictive Covenants – Effect of Expiration of Time Limitation in Deed Under General Plan

Plaintiffs were the owners of two lots in a subdivision originally owned by a real estate development company. Defendants were property owners or lien holders within the subdivision, the development company, and the prospective purchasers of plaintiff’s lots who refused to buy on the ground that the lots were subject to certain restrictions. All purchasers of lots within the subdivision had received the same form deed containing the identical provision that restrictions, including one prohibiting nonresidential use, were to be enforceable for twenty-one years from the date of each conveyance. The first lot was sold in 1927 and plaintiffs’ lots were conveyed in 1944. Plaintiffs brought suit for a declaratory judgment that their lots were no longer subject to the restrictions, since more than twenty-one years had elapsed from the date of the first conveyance in 1927. The trial court held that the restrictions were no longer enforceable by the other property owners and were not a cloud on plaintiffs’ title. On appeal, held, affirmed. From the date of the first conveyance in 1927, negative mutual easements were established for the entire subdivision and were enforceable by purchasers within the plan for a period of twenty-one years. At the end of that time, restrictions on the first purchaser’s land being unenforceable, mutuality among lot owners ceased and the restrictions on the remaining land became unenforceable by the lot owners. Stanton v. Gulf Oil Corp., (S.C. 1957) 101 S.E. (2d) 250.