Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condominium Association, Inc.
878 P.2d 1275 (1994)
Nahrstedt bought a condo in
Lakeside Village. It clearly stated in the homeowners' agreement (aka the declaration) that there was a restriction against keeping
pets. Nahrstedt sued to enjoin the homeowners' restriction.
She wanted to keep Boo-Boo,
Dockers, and Tulip.
The Trial Court found for
Lakeside. Nahrstedt appealed.
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found
that Lakeside could only enforce the restriction if it could be proven
that Nahrstedt's cats would interfere with the other homeowners' right to
the quiet enjoyment of their property.
The California Supreme Court
reversed and found for Lakeside.
The California Supreme Court
found that, under California Civil Code§1354, courts are
required to enforce "covenants, conditions, and restrictions"
(CC&Rs) contained in the declaration unless they are unreasonable.
The Court held that unreasonable meant, "wholly arbitrary, violate in
fundamental public policy, or impose burdens on the use of land that
outweighs any benefit."
In addition, reasonable means reasonable to the entire condominium
association, not necessarily reasonable to an individual owner.
The Court found that there
was a social good in allowing enforceable CC&Rs that were hard to
Unless there was a blanket
rule that it was very difficult to invalidate CC&Rs, then everybody
would start suing, and the burden on both homeowners' associations and
the court system would be unreasonable.
The Court also pointed out
that the Lakeside homeowners can modify their CC&Rs with a vote. So
if Nahrstedt really had a problem she should take it up at the next
homeowners' association meeting.
The covenant in this case went a little further than a
typical covenant because it
created a "managing board" with the power to create and change
rules for the entire community, as opposed to just laying out the rules
Courts have generally found
that rules created by managing boards after people move into a community
should be held to a higher standard of "reasonableness" than
rules that were in the original covenant.
If the "no pets"
rule had not been something in the original declaration, but instead was something that was later
adopted by the managing board, Nahrstedt could have argued that the
should be less enforceable.
Of course, what happens if
the "no pets" rule was not in the original declaration, but had been adopted prior to Nahrstedt's
moving in? Should the rule be held to a higher standard than if it was
in the original declaration,
or should it be considered the same as the original declaration because Nahrstedt had full knowledge of the
rule when she decided to move in?
Typically, courts have
said that all rules that passed after the first person moved in are
held to the same standard for everybody.
If so, then different
residents would be held to different standards based on when then moved
in! You'd no longer have a common interest community.
What if Nahrstedt had been
living there, and the managing board changed the rules? Would Nahrstedt
be able to argue reliance or that the board should be estopped from
enforcing the rule because she's got the equivalent of a non-conforming
Conversely, it might be
argued that Nahrstedt knew that joining a common interest community
could result in new rules being created, so she had no reason to assume
that there'd never be a no-pets rule.