Jones v. Beiber

Decision Date14 June 1960
Docket NumberNo. 49895,49895
Citation103 N.W.2d 364,251 Iowa 969
PartiesHarold Otto JONES, E. V. Walker, Edward West, Harold W. Jones, C. Cates, Herbert Cambell, Benny Lybarger, Joe Hass, Robert Beeke, George Rose, M. E. Vankirk, William L. Johnson, William Fairley, and Leo Conklin, Appellants, v. Jock R. BEIBER and Bernice M. Beiber, husband and wife, Appellees.
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Don A. Petruccelli, Davenport, for appellants.

Bertram B. Metcalf, Davenport, for appellees.

HAYS, Justice.

January 12, 1948, Benjamin J. Stewart and wife conveyed by warranty deed to Morris Goldstein certain described real estate in Scott County, Iowa. This deed contained the following paragraph: 'It is a covenant and condition of this conveyance that no part of the real estate hereinabove described shall at any time be used for a commercial garage, used car sales lot, tavern or night club nor shall any intoxicating liquors be sold upon any part of said premises. The grantee herein and his heirs, devisees and assigns are hereby specifically given the right to use the Southerly 200 feet of the West 200 feet * * * for filling station purposes or for grocery store purposes or both. All buildings erected upon the real estate * * * shall be of a permanent character and be upon a foundation and shall not be less than 14 feet by 18 feet in size. No garage, trailer, shack or hut shall be used for living purposes. These covenants shall be covenants running with the land and shall be binding upon the grantee herein, his heirs, and assigns'. (Italics added.

January 20, 1948, Goldstein platted this tract in lots and streets and gave it the name of 'Devils Glenn Acres'. Plaintiffs are individual owners of various of these lots and have erected thereon dwellings of a permanent nature and costing not less than $10,000 each. In August 1957, defendants became owners of lot 23 in said 'Devils Glenn Acres'. On July 7, 1958, they moved a trailer 8 feet wide and 51 feet long onto said lot. They removed the wheels, placed it on cement blocks, leaving the axle and trailer hitch which they concealed by siding placed around the base thereof. It was connected with water, electricity and a septic tank and is being used by them as their home.

In this suit in equity plaintiffs seek to enjoin defendants from so using it, alleging it to be in violation of the terms of the covenant above set forth. The trial court found it was no longer a trailer but a permanent structure attached to the soil. That it is larger in size than the covenant requires and denied the injunction. Plaintiffs appeal.

While the law favors the free legal use of land by its owner and frowns upon restrictive covenants they are recognized and enforcible in a court of equity where the intention of the parties is clear and the restrictions reasonable. Thodos v. Shirk, 248 Iowa 172, 79 N.W.2d 733; Grange v. Korff, 248 Iowa 118, 79 N.W.2d 743; 26 C.J.S. Deeds § 171; 14 Am.Jur. Covenants, sec. 337. In the instant case the facts are undisputed; the existence of the covenant is conceded and the question of its reasonableness is not involved. The sole problem is ascertaining the intention of the parties to the covenant; to determine when a trailer ceases to be a trailer within the purview thereof.

While such covenants, when ambiguous, are to be strictly construed in favor of a free and unrestricted use of realty, effect must be given to the manifest intention of the parties as shown by the language of the entire instrument in which the covenant appears. Due regard must be had for the purpose contemplated by the parties thereto, and words used must be given their ordinary and obvious meaning as commonly understood at the time the instrument was executed, unless they have acquired a peculiar meaning in the particular relation in which they appear, or in respect to the particular subject matter involved, or unless it clearly appears from the context that the parties intended to use them in a different sense. 26 C.J.S. Deeds § 163; 14 Am.Jur. Covenants, sec. 211; Curtis v. Schmidt, 212 Iowa 1279, 237 N.W. 463.

Appellees' entire argument in support of the trial court's decree is based upon the...

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24 cases
  • Lassiter v. Bliss
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • November 30, 1977 its usual meaning regardless of whether it is referred to or described as a house trailer or mobile home. See Jones v. Beiber, 251 Iowa 969, 103 N.W.2d 364 (1960); Mouille v. Henry, 321 So.2d 377 (La.App.1975); Timmerman v. Gabriel, 155 Mont. 294, 470 P.2d 528 (1970); Van Poole v. Messer......
  • Amana Soc. v. Colony Inn, Inc.
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • January 20, 1982
    ...Inc., 258 Iowa 1291, 1296, 142 N.W.2d 430, 433 (1966) (suit to enjoin building in violation of restrictions); Jones v. Beiber, 251 Iowa 969, 971, 103 N.W.2d 364, 365 (1960) (suit to enjoin breach of restrictive covenant in deed). This rule has also been applied in construing zoning ordinanc......
  • Town of Manchester v. Phillips
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • February 9, 1962
    ...removed not clear); Cooper v. Sinclair (Fla.), 66 So.2d 702, 704-706 (trailer may not have been affixed to land); Jones v. Beiber, 251 Iowa 969, 973, 103 N.W.2d 364, 365 (trailer with wheels removed and mounted on cement blocks held within a restrictive covenant forbidding a 'garage, traile......
  • Killeen Trucking, Inc. v. Great American Surplus Lines Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division
    • July 25, 1986
    ... ... See Safeguard Insurance Co. v. Justice, 203 Va. 972, 128 S.E.2d 286 (Sup.Ct.1962); Jones v ... Beiber, 251 Iowa 969, 103 N.W.2d 364 (Sup.Ct.1960). "Trailer" is defined as "a vehicle or one in a succession of vehicles hauled usually by ... ...
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