Property II, Pages 621–626

Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condominium Ass'n, Inc.

Supreme Court of California, 1994

Facts:

Plaintiff purchased a condominium in Lakeside Village and moved in with her three cats. The condominium's association, defendant, which all residents were members of, demanded their removal in compliance with the CCRs. Plaintiff then sued to invalidate the fines and declare the restriction unreasonable as it also applied to indoor cats.

Procedural History:

  • Trial court sustained defendant's demurrer as to each cause of action and dismissed plaintiff's complaint.

  • The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment.

Issue:

Was the restriction on indoor cats valid?

Reasoning:

Not enforcing CCRs would increase litigation, require courts to justify them on a case-by-case basis, strain common interest developments, and frustrate owners who relied on the CCRs. Homeowner associations are ill-equipped to investigate the implications of their rules.

Rule:

Recorded use restrictions are presumed to be valid. It will only be invalid if the restriction is arbitrary, imposes burdens on the use of the land that substantially outweigh the restriction's benefits to the development's residents, or violates a fundamental public policy.

Holding:

LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 624, Paragraph 4

[T]he recorded pet restriction . . . is not arbitrary, but is rationally related to health, sanitation and noise concerns legitimately held by residents

Judgment:

Reversed and remanded.

Dissenting Opinion:

Arabian: The provision is arbitrary and unreasonable. People enjoy their pets, and this restriction on this enjoyment unduly burdens the use of property imposed on the owners who can enjoy this without disturbing others. The majority arbitrarily sacrifices this ability to enjoy their own property without harming others just because the "commonality" says so. Everyone will have some annoyances with their neighbors; the government should not repress people in an attempt to prevent them all. The majority inhumanely trivializes the interest people have in pet ownership.

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