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Bolotin v. Rindge - 230 Cal. App. 2d 741 (1964)

Rule:

A court will declare deed restrictions to be unenforceable when, by reason of changed conditions, enforcement of the restrictions would be inequitable and oppressive, and would harass a plaintiff without benefiting the adjoining owners.

Facts:

Plaintiff lot owners owned an unimproved lot in an exclusive neighborhood where defendant homeowners also owned property. The lots were subject to deed restrictions limiting them to single-family homes. The lot owners filed an action for declaratory relief and to quiet title against the deed restrictions. The trial court ruled in favor of the lot owners declaring the restrictions to be unenforceable in part. The homeowners appealed.

Issue:

Did the trial court err in declaring deed restrictions limiting building only to single-family residential homes to be unenforceable in part based only on making implied findings, rather than upon factual findings?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court held that deed restrictions were to be declared unenforceable when, by reason of changed conditions, enforcement of the restrictions would be inequitable and oppressive and would harass the lot owners without benefiting the adjoining owners. The court determined that the trial court erred by only making implied findings. The court found that the trial court's judgment couold not be saved by any doctrine of implied findings; notably this was not a case where the findings of fact were ambiguous or conflicting. There was nothing in the record to indicate that the trial court considered or decided whether the purpose of the deed restrictions had become obsolete, or whether the enforcement of the restrictions against the lot owners' lot would benefit the homeowners in any respect other than market value. The trial court's finding as to the effect upon the homeowners was limited to a statement that there would be no adverse effect upon market value of their properties. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment and remanded the case for the trial court to make proper factual findings.

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