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CCOC Decision Summary

#470-O, D'Aoust v. Quince Haven Homeowners Association (November 15, 2000) (Reilly, Neel, Price)

The homeowner (HO) filed a complaint challenging a decision of his homeowner association (HOA) to prohibit the installation of stained glass windows or similar-appearing window treatments.

The evidence showed that the HO had installed stained-glass type window treatments on his home in 1994, and in 1998 the HOA proposed prohibiting such window treatments.  It finally adopted a rule in 1999, and found the HO in violation of it but determined to "grandfather" in his windows.  The HO challenged the right of the HOA to adopt any such rule and to hold him in violation.  The Declaration, under which the window treatment rule was adopted, provides that, "nor shall any exterior addition to or change or alteration therein be made" without approval of the HOA.

The panel ruled that under this provision of the Declaration, the HOA could regulate stained glass windows that were installed on the exterior of the house, but the Declaration did not give the HOA the right to regulate stained glass windows installed inside the house.  The provision in the Declaration prohibiting the installation of "bed sheets, plastic sheets, newspapers, plastic storm windows" and similar window treatments was intended to prohibit the use of temporary materials that significantly detracted from the appearance of the community, but was not intended to regulate any standard, traditional window treatment.  Nor did the authority of the HOA to adopt "house rules" give it unfettered control, because every house rule must be consistent with the Declaration.  "Rules on interior changes, unless specifically enumerated in the Declaration, are not [within the powers granted by the Declaration.]"

The panel pointed out in a footnote that homeowners did not have the right to place commercial advertising or offensive message inside their windows because such treatments were prohibited by other sections of the Declaration.

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