Colyear v. Rolling Hills Community Assn. of Rancho Palos Verdes (Apr. 23, 2018, B278198) 2018 WL 1905035

The client owns property in Rolling Hills, a community subject to a patchwork of covenants, conditions, and restrictions.  The defendants—the community’s homeowners association and several of its board members—took the position that a tree-trimming covenant applied to every property in the community, including the client’s.  They did so despite the absence of such a covenant from the declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions covering the client’s property—and after having admitted previously that no such covenant encumbered the client’s property.

The client sued the defendants to quiet title, as well as for damages to the value of his property caused by the false encumbrance.  He also sued to force the defendants to rescind a tree-trimming policy predicated on the mistaken notion that every property in the community was subject to a tree-trimming covenant.  The defendants argued in the trial court that the client failed to plead the facts necessary to support his causes of action, and that they were privileged to make false statements about the scope of the tree-trimming covenant as long as they did so in good faith.  They also argued that the client was required to engage in alternative dispute resolution before bringing suit.  The trial court granted the defendants’ demurrer, without leave to amend, and awarded attorney fees.  The Court of Appeal reversed, in the client’s favor, as to every cause of action that he pled.

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