Our client for a long time has rented the room on the first floor of a building on Sennaya square in Saint-Petersburg, the rented space was used for a store. In May 2018, a sign with the brand name of our client and the profile of the store (“Electronics and Accessories”) was placed over its entrance, in accordance with the Committee on Printing and Interaction with the Media of the Administration of Saint-Petersburg regulations.

Homeowner Association “Peter” (the HOA), which manages the property where the store is located, in July 2018, dismantled the sign, considering it an advertisement which was placed without the HOA consent.

We appealed to the Arbitration Court of Saint-Petersburg and Leningrad region on behalf of our client with a claim to the HOA to restore the store sign in the same place and to recover the forfeit in case of breach of the court decision. The Court of first instance allowed our claim, having agreed that the purpose of the sign is to notify an indefinite number of people (consumers) about the profile of the store, its location, and the entrance place, which means the dismantled sign was not an advertisement, and, therefore, the consent of the property owners on its placement wasn’t required.

The HOA appealed, and the Thirteenth Arbitration Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Court of first instance. According to the Court of appeal, the sign placed above the store entrance was an advertisement, since it does not contain all the information that a seller must provide to consumers (for example, an address of a legal entity).

We did not agree with that decision of the Court of appeal, and challenged it in the Arbitration Court of the North-Western District with a cassation appeal. The Court of cassation considered our arguments that the sign is informational in its nature, and the client in a clear and accessible form implemented a public obligation to post the information about the scope of its activities and brand name, and therefore did not require the consent for installation from the property owners. The Court overturned the appellate decision and upheld the trial court’s decision, concluding that our client, as a tenant at the residential premises under the contract, has the right to use the common property of the condominium within the title of the owner of the premises, and the HOA, by dismantling of the named signs, violated its rights.

The court decision has been enforced, the signed was restored by the HOA in the same place, the matter of forfeit recovery is being considered.

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