Addressing disputes between HOA neighbors

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2023 | Property Owners Association Law

Neighbor disputes happen frequently within Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs). These conflicts are usually based on a neighbor’s frustration with the behavior of another neighbor or their belief that a neighbor committed a violation of the Association’s governing document, which is the rule book for how the Homeowners’ Association (HOA) is managed.

Often, homeowners submit complaints to the HOA Board alleging violations by another neighbor. A common problem for Homeowners’ Association Boards is that some of these complaints are difficult to prove. If the problem is a barking dog, for example, or smoking, it is likely that the Board will not have evidence of the problem unless there are witnesses.

The Board can struggle to discern whether an allegation is true and whether a violation occurred, which leads to frustration on part of the neighbor who submitted the complaint and a general problem of not having an efficient, official way of dealing with these types of complaints.

Neighbors often complain about barking dogs, children causing disruption, loud noises, people smoking, and other reasons. While these are certainly important concerns, usually the neighbor must be able to prove the allegation for the Board to do something.

Potential solutions

In cases where the Board is unable to decide on a particular complaint because there are no witnesses and there is no evidence, there can still be a solution to the problem.

The Board can create a Neighbor Dispute Resolution Policy, which, as long as it is legal, can be voted on and made part of the governing document to allow neighbors to solve problems. This can be helpful for the residents and for the Board, as it saves time and money.

Board Members are usually volunteers and provide their services in the limited time they have outside of work and their other personal responsibilities. Addressing the issue of how to deal with relatively minor complaints can help the Board and every neighbor, knowing that there is a way to submit disputes and a way to address them with the purpose of solving them.