This case involved a dispute between husband and wife homeowners (Owners) and their homeowners association (Association) over the color of the exterior paint on Owners house. After Owners painted their house a blue color without having first obtained approval from Association, Association filed suit against Owners seeking to enforce restrictive covenants contained in the HOA CC&Rs.
The provisions contained in Associations governing documents that Association relied on in support of its claims against Owners contained language that: (i) prohibited certain external improvements that were not specifically approved by the Developer, as well as storage of anything that would be obnoxious to the eye; and (ii) prohibited objectionable, unlawful or offensive trade or activity and activities which may be or become a nuisance or annoyance to the neighborhood or surrounding Lots.
The district court granted judgment in favor of Association after finding that Owners painting of their residence was an improvement in the nature of a permanent addition which required Associations approval. The court also found that the blue color used by Owners was a nuisance, annoyance, and obnoxious to the eye, because it clashed with the neighborhood and did not fit in. Accordingly, the district court ordered Owners to repaint their home in an earth tone color that was reasonably acceptable to Association. Owners then appealed.
The appellate court ruled that: (i) the exterior paint color of homes was not a subject that was covered by the portions of Associations governing documents that required Association approval of improvements; (ii) exterior painting was not carrying on a trade or activity on a lot; and (iii) the opinions of other owners that the color of blue that was used by Owners was a nuisance or annoyance could not be justification for varying the plain language of Associations governing documents. Since the plain language contained in the HOA CC&Rs does not control the color or repainting of owners homes, the appellate court reversed the trial courts judgment. The appellate court also commented that Association was not without a potential remedy as it had the power to take appropriate action to amend its governing documents to properly cover the issue of exterior paint colors. The court stated, It is not our function to in effect amend the covenants by interpretation or construction contrary to the plain meaning of the language used.
Supreme Court of Nebraska decision (December 1, 2017).
View Case Decision: Estates_At_Prairie_Ridge_Homeowners_Ass’n_v._Korth_298_Neb._266_(Neb._2017)1