Nebraska Supreme Court Says HOA’s CC&Rs Do Not Allow HOA to Control Color of Homeowners’ House

Supreme Court of Nebraska decision (December 1, 2017).

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 Association’s governing documents.

The provisions contained in Association’s 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 Association’s 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:

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