This case involved a dispute between two neighboring property owners (Owner 1 and Owner 2) in a subdivision that is a common interest community. The community is subject to CC&Rs that require owners to obtain approval from the homeowners associations (Association) Architectural Review Committee (ARC) before proceeding with any landscaping or improvement on their property. Owner 1 planted 21 cypress trees without first obtaining approval from the ARC. Nine of these were trees planted without approval in common area belonging to Association that abutted the rear lot line of the Owner 1 and Owner 2 properties. Owner 2 filed an action against Owner 1 which sought injunctive relief in the form of an order directing removal of all of the cypress trees. Owner 2 did not join Association in the lawsuit.
The Trial Court Ruling: The trial court ruled that the trees were planted without the required approval of the ARC thus in violation of the governing CC&Rs. Because Owner 1 had removed the trees planted without approval that were planted on the Owner 1 property, the trial court enjoined Owner 1 from planting any other trees without ARC approval. The trial court did not extend any injunctive relief to the 9 cypress trees Owner 1 planted in common area because the court found that Owner 2 had not proved that Owner 1 had planted the 9 trees, and because Owner 2 had not joined Association in the lawsuit.
The Appellate Court Ruling: On review, the appellate court found that there was sufficient evidenced introduced during the trial to show that Owner 1 had 9 cypress trees planted without approval in the common area. The appellate court also found that Owner 2s action sufficiently sought the injunctive relief as to the trees that had been planted in the common area as well as those planted on the Owner 1 property, and that both Florida law and Associations governing documents allow individual owners to file actions to enforce Associations CC&Rs. There is no requirement in the statutes or the CC&Rs for joining the association in any such enforcement action. As such, Owner 2 should have been granted the requested injunctive relief as to the 9 cypress trees that had been planted in the common area by Owner 1.
Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the trail courts judgment and directed the trial court to enter a new judgment in favor of Owner 2.
Florida Appellate Court decision (May 2, 2019).
See case decision: McIntosh_v._Myers