Citation. 861 So. 2d 495.
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Brief Fact Summary.
After much upset over the holding of religious services by a group of members, Neuman’s included, in a condominium-complex auditorium, the Board held a vote and then amended the rules to state that there will be no holding of religious services in the auditorium.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
In order to overturn a condominium rule that does not violate any constitutional rights and is not arbitrarily and capriciously enacted the test is reasonableness of the rule. Condominiums have a right to enact rules regulating the use of the units and common areas.
The Neuman’s live in the GrandView Condominium Complex during the winter months which comprises of 442 members. There is an auditorium the members can reserve for social gatherings. There was a rule that religious meetings where fine as long as 80% of the participants at the meeting where members of the complex. In January several member reserved the hall from 8:30a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on sat mornings for a party that was actually religious services. 40 members attended. Upon realizing the religious services were being held, several members complained to the point it was causing much havoc and tension between the members. The board held a vote where 70 percent of the members voted to have no religious services held in the auditorium. The board then unanimously voted to amend the rule completely prohibiting the holding of religious services in the auditorium.
Whether a condominium restriction banning religious service in the auditorium violates the rule that you can not unreasonably restrict the unit owner’s right to have peaceful assembly.
No. A condominium rule will only be overturned if it violates constitutional rights, is unreasonable, or is arbitrarily and capriciously enacted. The constitutional right in question is peaceful assembly. The appellants argued that the new rule meant they couldn’t even have Christmas parties. The lower Court decided that religious holiday parties should be allowed, but did not agree that the preclusion of services violated any rights. Based on that ruling Grandview amended the rule to allow for holiday parties. The lower Court also held that no state action was involved so the right of religious and freedom of speech were not implicated. This court argues that even if state action was implicated the right to peaceable assembly is historically left to discuss public or governmental issues not religious services. Condominiums are creatures of statute; therefore, condominium rules should be enforced. Due to the nature of a complex where the unit owners live in close proximity to one another, the rules that appease the majority will be upheld.
Condominiums are creatures of statutes and should be governed by the rules voted into its declarations. Courts are very reluctant to overturn a rule unless the high threshold of constitutional violations, or unreasonableness has been found.