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#110-G, MacArthur Park Condominium Inc. v. Austin (June 22, 1992) (Panel: Hickey, Auvil, Sullivan)

The condominium association (CA) complained that the condominium owner (CO) installed ceiling fans in her unit without approval and in violation of the rules, and that the fans were causing excessive noise in violation of the rules.  The CO denied that the rules applied to her fans, that they were an unreasonable restriction on her right of ownership, that the rule on excessive noise did not apply because it was adopted after she installed her fans, and that the CA did not consistently enforce its rules.

The evidence at the hearing showed that in 1989 the CO installed two ceiling fans in her unit, which utilized the existing wiring of the building; the location of the connection was in the common elements owned by the CA.  The fans did not affect the costs of insuring or maintaining the building, but they did create noise and vibration which annoyed the owner of the unit above the CO's.  The CA adopted a House Rule in 1987 prohibiting the installation of electrical appliances without approval in order to prevent overloading the building's electrical system.  The building's construction was susceptible to inter-floor noise transmission.  Shortly after the CO installed her fans the CA adopted a new House Rule by a majority vote of the owners that specifically prohibited ceiling fans.  There was no evidence of any other ceiling fans in the building.

The hearing panel held that the CO was in violation of the Bylaws that stated that "nor shall anything be done which may be or become an annoyance to the neighborhood or the other owners."  The panel also held the CO to be in violation of the 1990 House Rule prohibiting ceiling fans.  The Rule was properly adopted, the CA properly notified the CO that she was in violation of it, and the CA had the right to impose fines on her for violating it.  However, the panel held that the Bylaws section prohibiting the installation of electrical appliances did not apply to the fans because the overall intent of that provision was to regulate structural changes that could affect the terms of the CA's insurance coverage.  Likewise, the fans did not violate the House Rule on electrical appliances because there was testimony at the hearing that the purpose of that Rule was to regulate appliances that required upgraded wiring, which the fans did not do; and the panel further reasoned that the later adoption of a rule specifically banning ceiling fans tended to show that the earlier Rule was not intended to cover such fans.

The panel denied the CA's request for attorney's fees on the grounds that there were no facts to show misconduct, delay, or unreasonable action by the CO in the course of this complaint.

The panel ordered the CO to remove the fans within 30 days and to pay a fine of $100 to the CA.  The panel ordered the CA to pay the CO for her removal of the fans pursuant to the terms of its 1990 House Rule.