D's project declaration recorded by the condo developer contained a restriction against allowing owners to have cats, dogs, and other animals.
P sued D to prevent the homeowners' association from enforcing the restriction.
Trial Court dismissed P's claim.
CA COA reversed.
CA Supreme Court reversed, dismissed P's claim.
What standard of review should be used to determine whether a restriction in a condominium should be enforced against a homeowner?
If the use restriction is contained in the declaration or master deed of the condominium project, the restriction should not be enforced only if it violates public policy or some fundamental constitutional right.
If the use restriction is a rule promulgated by the governing board of the homeowners association or the association's interpretation of a rule, the restriction should be enforced if it meets a reasonableness test.
Section 1354 requires that courts enforce covenants, conditions, and restrictions contained in the recorded declaration of a CIC "unless unreasonable."
A stable and predicable living environment is crucial to the success of condos.
Recorded use restrictions are a primary means of ensuring this stability and predictability.
Thus, these restrictions are afforded a presumption of validity; challengers must demonstrate the restriction's unreasonableness.
Under this standard, enforcement of the restriction does not depend on the conduct of a particular condo owner.
Rather, the restriction must be enforced unless the owner can show that the burdens it imposes on affected properties so substantially outweigh the benefits of the restriction that it should not be enforced against any owner.
Condo owners must give up a certain degree of freedom of choice because of the close living quarters.
Restrictions (like equitable servitudes) should not be enforced if they are arbitrary or violate fundamental public policy or impose a burden on the use of land that far outweighs any benefit.
When courts accord a presumption of validity to recorded use restrictions, it discourages lawsuits by owners of individual units seeking personal exemptions.
This also provides stability and assurance since purchasers can be assured that the promises embodied in the deed will be enforced.
Associations can enforce reasonable restrictions without fear of costly legal proceedings.
Going on a case-by-case basis would be costly for owners, associations, and courts.
In determining whether a restriction is unreasonable/unenforceable, the focus is on the restriction's effect on the project as a whole, not on the individual homeowner.
The majority may be technically correct, but it reflects a narrow view of the law that harms the human spirit in the name of efficiency.
The pet restriction is arbitrary and unreasonable within the meaning of Section 1354.
The presumption of validity afforded to recorded restrictions means that virtually no restrictions will be unenforceable.
The activity here is confined to an owner's internal space; this is unlike most restrictions put into recorded deeds.