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Increasing regulation of transfer fee covenants

November 24th, 2010 by Joseph William Singer

More and more states are passing statutes prohibiting “transfer fee covenants” which purport to require owners of property to pay a portion of the sales price (or a fixed amount) to the original developer whenever the property is sold. Such provisions were held to be unenforceable restraints on alienation in the 1852 New York Court of Appeals case De Peyster v. Michael, 6 N.Y. 467 (1852), a case that is apparently not well known to those peddling these covenants today. De Peyster involved a “quarter sale” clause that required one-fourth of the sale price to go to the heirs of the van Rensselaer family. The court found the arrangement to be a vestige of feudalism akin to quitrents paid to a lord and held that such property relationships had been outlawed in New York by both statute and common law. Recent statutes prohibiting transfer fee covenants (at least prospectively) were passed in Arizona, Minnesota and Utah. 2010 Ariz. Sess. Laws 40; 2010 Minn. Laws 371; Utah Code § 57-1-46.

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