UNPUBLISHED California Appellate Court decision (January 29, 2015).
This case involved a dispute between a homeowners association and a member of the association who made unauthorized modifications to the flooring in his upstairs condominium unit. The association’s governing documents contained provisions that provide, “No activity shall be conducted in any Unit or Common Area that constitutes a nuisance or unreasonably interferes with use or quiet enjoyment of the occupants of any other Condominium.” Another section states, “No Unit shall be altered in any manner that would increase sound transmission to any adjoining or other Unit, including , but not limited to, the replacement or modification of any flooring or floor covering that increases sound transmission to any lower Unit.”Another sectionrequires prior written approval from the association’s Architectural Review Committee before “any replacement or modification to any floor coverings or wall or ceiling materials or any penetration or other disturbance of any wall, floor, or ceiling if the replacement, modification, penetration or disturbance could result in any increase in the sound transmissions from the Unit to any other Unit.”
The homeowner and his wife moved into their unitand replaced the carpets with hardwood floors to allegedly accommodate the wife’s severe dust allergy.Following the installation of the hardwood floors, the occupants of the unit below began to experience “sound transfer” through the floor — a noise problem that they had never experienced before the hardwood floors were installed in the unit directly above theirs. After the installation of thehardwood floors in the upstairs unit, all noises from upstairs became “greatly amplified” and intolerable to the owners in the downstairs unit.
After the homeowner failed to respond to efforts to informally resolve the issues, the association filed a lawsuit against the homeowner seeking an injunction and declaratory relief. Thereafter, in September of 2012, the association sought a preliminary injunction to “restrain and enjoin” the owner from maintaining the hardwood flooring and from his continued violations of the HOA restrictions.In support of the requested relief the association alleged that without the requested injunction, adjacent homeowners would continue to suffer “great and immediate irreparable harm in that Defendant’s hardwood floors create an acoustic nuisance, both violating the neighboring owner’s sense of quiet enjoyment, but also reducing property values for all owners with the Association.”The homeowner contendedthat the hardwood floors were necessary because of his wife’s severe allergy to dust– thus removal of the hardwood floors would not only be expensive, but would also endanger his wife’s health.
The trial court found that the homeowner had violated the HOA rules by installing the hardwood floors, and that the violation resulted in a continuing “great nuisance” for the occupants below. Notwithstanding said findings, the court did not order the owner to remove the hardwood floors. Instead, the trial court balanced the respective interests of the parties and ordered the homeowner to provide the association’s board of directors or design review committee with a proposal for modifying the floors to bring them into compliance with the guidelines established by the association.The homeowner appealed the trial court’s judgment but the appellate court affirmed the judgment finding that the owner had not met the required burden of proof to justify a reversal of the trial court’s judgment.
See case decision: Ryland_Mews_Homeowners_Ass’n