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Breene v. Plaza Towers Association

    Brief Fact Summary. A condominium unit holder wanted to sublet his unit, but the condominium association denied his request.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. A restriction adopted after the purchase of a condominium unit will not be enforceable against the purchaser unless the purchaser agrees to the additional provision.

    Facts. Janet Lucas Breene and A. William Lucas (Plaintiffs) purchased a condominium unit. At the time of purchase, there was no restriction relating to the sale or lease of the unit other than a provision giving the association the right of first refusal. The declaration of condominium contained a provision, which allowed it to be amended at a meeting by a vote of the members of the association. The Plaza Towers Association (Defendant) amended its bylaws and included a provision, which prohibited the lease of a unit to a non-owner. The amendment was not recorded. Plaintiffs requested permission to rent the unit, and their request was denied. Plaintiffs sought to enjoin Defendant from enforcing its bylaws against them.

    Issue. Can amendments to condominium bylaws that restrict the use of the condominium unit have retroactive effect?

    Held. No.
    The restrictions and bylaws must be recorded so that prospective purchasers have notice of the restrictions and bylaws that affect their interest in the property.
    The notice of restrictions through the recording must be given to prospective buyers prior to the conveyance of any unit in order to be enforceable. So, a restriction adopted after the purchase of a condominium unit would not be enforceable against the purchaser except through the purchaser’s agreement.
    Even though the declaration allowed for amendment, the knowledge of a potential amendment alone does not establish a voluntary and intentional relinquishment of the right to notice of a restriction prior to the purchase of a unit.

    Discussion. Restrictions on the use of condominium units cannot be made after the unit has already been purchased. The decision to buy a unit may be based on the restrictions (or the lack thereof), so the prospective purchased must know what he or she is getting at the time of purchase.


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