Citation. 750 P.2d 813, 1988 Alas.
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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.
John and Janie O’Buck (Plaintiffs) purchased a condominium unit, which was pre-wired for a central television antenna and an antenna-based cable system. An outdoor antenna was needed to get reception. The roofs of the units started to leak and had to be fixed. In order to protect the roof in the future and increase the marketability of the units, the board of directors of the Cottonwood Village Association (Defendant) adopted a rule prohibiting the mounting of antennae anywhere on the buildings. The declaration of condominium allows Defendant to adopt rules governing the use of common areas, including the roofs and walls of the building. Another provision allows Defendant to require unit owners to take actions to preserve a uniform exterior appearance of the building. Defendant offered a cable system as an alternative and paid the hookup fee and the depreciated value of the old antennae. Plaintiffs were responsible for the hookup costs of their extra television sets. Plaintiff
s seek damages and an injunction against enforcement of the rule.
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.
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