Unpublished California Appellate Court decision (August 19, 2014).

In this case, one homeowner (“Harper”) sued its neighboring homeowner (“Valentine”) and their homeowners association (“Association”) over alleged violations of the Association’s governing documents, which included the Association’s Architectural Guidelines (“Guidelines”). Harper’s action sought relief from the Association’s approval of the construction of a new home on Valentine’s property because of alleged deficiencies in the approval process.

Valentine contended that Harper did not have standing to sue Valentine for the alleged violations of the Association’s Guidelines. The trial court found Harper could sue the Valentines for their alleged violation of the Guidelines under a third party beneficiary theory.

The appellate court reversed the trial court decision that Harper had standing to sue Valentine for violations of the Association’s Guidelines finding that that applicable statutory framework does not allow one homeowner to sue another homeowner for noncompliance with the Association’s Guidelines for the following reasons:

a. The Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act expressly limits an owner seeking to enforce governing documents other than the recorded declaration to an action against the association. (Civ. Code, 5975, subd. (b); and

b. The trial court’s reliance on a third party beneficiary was improper because, although Civil Code section 1559 allows a third party to enforce a contract that was made for their benefit, the Association’s Guidelines did not constitute a contract that was made for Harper’s benefit. The Guidelines were adopted “to establish the procedure for submitting plans to the Architectural Committee for its review and approval.”

See case decision: Harper vs. Canyon Hills Community Assn