Brief Fact Summary. A couple bought a condominium unit, which was pre-wired for a central television antenna and an antenna-based cable system. After a maintenance problem, the condominium board adopted a rule prohibiting the mounting of television antennae.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A condominium association can adopt a reasonable rule that would improve the appearance of the building and enhance its marketability, even if a unit owner objects because of a small financial burden placed on the owner.
Condominium unit owners comprise a little democratic sub society of necessity more restrictive as it pertains to use of condominium property than may be existent outside the condominium organization.View Full Point of Law
Issue. May a condominium board adopt and enforce a rule that protects the building, improves its exterior appearance and increases its marketability, if a unit holder does not support the rule?
The laws governing the condominium allowed Defendant to enact rules banning television antennae on the building.
A condominium association rule can stand if it is reasonable. If the roof problems were the only reason for the rule, Plaintiffs would have a stronger argument that the rule was unreasonable. Other inexpensive alternatives existed that would have protected the roof. But, Defendant was also motivated to create the rule by the unsightly appearance of the antennae. Defendant believed that getting rid of the antennae would enhance the marketability of the units.
Plaintiffs do not agree that the marketability would be enhanced by the ban on antennae, but condominium owners consciously sacrifice some freedom of choice when living in a condominium. Different aesthetic tastes are not enough of a reason to strike down reasonable rules.
When evaluating the reasonableness of a condominium association rule, it is necessary to balance the importance of the rule’s objective against the interest infringed upon. The antennae ban does not curtail a significant interest. The ten-dollar monthly fee Plaintiffs would have to pay is small.
Thus, the interest of Defendant in improving the exterior appearance of the building and enhancing the marketability of the units justifies the small financial burden on the unit owners.
Discussion. Condominium rules that are reasonable, but still do not satisfy the unit owners, are allowed. If an important interest is infringed upon by the rule, like a civil liberty, then a compelling justification would be needed. But when no important interest is involved, an adequate justification wil