In the newly published decision of Clear Lake Riviera Community Association v. Cramer (February 26, 2010) , a homeowner who knowingly built a home in violation of the Association’s height restrictions was ordered to fully comply with the HOA guidelines, even though reducing the height of the house “will be expensive and inconvenient, and its cost may exceed the amount of economic harm inflicted…on the neighboring properties, at least as measured by the diminution in market value of those properties.”
The court ruled that the house had to be reconstructed to comply with the Association’s height restrictions, reasoning that:
1) The height restriction violation was not “innocent” because the offending homeowner was aware of the restriction, his neighbors had raised the height issue before the foundation was poured, and he made no good faith effort to comply with the restriction.
2) The height violation caused irreparable harm to neighbors because the new construction blocked their unobstructed views of the lake. Additionally, the neighbors suffered a loss of privacy, since the new house looked onto these residences.
3) The $200,000 cost of correcting the violation was not “grossly disproportionate” to the hardship caused to the Association because the height violation caused the value of one neighbor’s home to be diminished by over $75,000.
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