Viking Properties, Inc. v. Holm

155 Wash. 2d 112, 118 P.3d 322 (2005)

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Viking Properties, Inc. v. Holm

Washington Supreme Court
155 Wash. 2d 112, 118 P.3d 322 (2005)

Facts

In 1932, the original owner of a large parcel of land subdivided the parcel into lots. The owner subsequently sold each subdivision lot subject to an identical restrictive covenant. The covenant included four restrictions: (1) the lot was not to be conveyed to a non-White purchaser, (2) the lot was not to be occupied by a non-White person other than the domestic servant of a White occupant, (3) only one single-family residence was to be built on each lot, and (4) certain structures appurtenant to the dwelling house were permitted on each lot. By 2002, the subdivision consisted of 13 lots. Each lot was at least one-half acre in size, and each contained one single-family residence. The city zoning regulations, which would have applied if the original covenant were not in effect, permitted between four and eight residences per acre. The owners of all 13 lots (homeowners) (defendants) agreed that the covenant’s first two restrictions were void and unenforceable racial restrictions but maintained that the remaining two restrictions were valid. In July 2002, Viking Properties, Inc. (Viking) (plaintiff) bought a lot in the subdivision. Three months after purchasing the lot, Viking requested that all of the homeowners sign a total release of the covenant and threatened to sue them if they refused. All of the homeowners declined to sign the release, and Viking filed a declaratory-judgment action seeking a declaration that the entire covenant was void. The trial court found for Viking, and the homeowners appealed to the Washington Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Johnson, J.)

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