Restraint on Alienation


A restraint on alienation, in the law of real property, is a clause used in the conveyance of real property that seeks to prohibit the recipient from selling or otherwise transferring his interest in the property. Under the common law such restraints are void as against the public policy of allowing landowners to freely dispose of their property. Perhaps the ultimate restraint on alienation was the fee tail, a form of ownership which required that property be passed down in the same family from generation to generation, which has also been widely abolished.

However, certain reasonable restraints will be given effect in most jurisdictions.

These traditionally include:

  • A prohibition against partition of property for a limited time.
  • The right of first refusal - if Joey sells property to Rachel, he may require that if Rachel later decides to sell the property, she must first give Joey the opportunity to buy it back.