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Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condominium Assoc., Inc

    Citation. 8 Cal. 4th 361, 878 P.2d 1275, 33 Cal. Rptr. 2d 63, 1994 Cal.

    Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Natore Nahrstedt (Plaintiff), a homeowner sued the Defendant, Lakeside Village Condominium Assoc., Inc. (Defendant) to prevent enforcement of a restriction against keeping cats, dogs or other animals in the development. Owner felt cat was noiseless and created no nuisance interfering with others’ enjoyment of property.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Agreed-to use restrictions will be enforced unless it is shown that they are unreasonable.

    Facts. Certain conditions, covenants and restrictions (CC&R’s) were included in the condo developer’s recorded declaration. The pet restriction said that “no animals (which shall mean dogs and cats), livestock, reptiles or poultry shall be kept in any unit.” The Plaintiff purchased a condo and moved in with three cats. Defendant learned of the cats’ presence and demanded removal. Defendant also began charging a monthly fine for violation of the restriction.

    Issue. Was the restriction so “unreasonable” as applied to indoor cats as to render the restriction unenforceable?

    Held. Under California law, recorded use restrictions will be enforced so long as they are reasonable. Such restrictions are given deference and the law cannot question agreed-to restrictions. Reasonableness should be determined by reference to the common interest of the development as a whole and not the objecting owner. Since the pet restriction was rationally related to health, safety, sanitation and noise concerns of the development as a whole it was reasonable and must be enforced. Further, the Plaintiff had not shown a disproportionate affect of the restriction on her personally that would prove enforcement of the restriction was somehow unreasonable.

    Dissent. Justice Arabian, extolling the virtues of cats and cherished benefits derived from pet ownership, would have found the restriction arbitrary and unreasonable. He felt the analysis should focus on the burden on the use of land (and on the objecting owner) and not the “health and happiness” of the development which realistically would be unaffected by this particular use.

    Discussion. The presumption of validity is guided by social fabric governing consistent enforcement of contracts and agreements. Allowing one person to escape the obligations of a written instrument interferes with the expectations of other parties governed by the CC &


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