It’s inevitable that in large communities like those that homeowner associations bring together, there are going to be disputes here and there. Homeowner association disputes, or HOA disputes, may range in size and severity, but nonetheless, they tend to have a big impact on the involved parties. Given that these disputes are likely to come up, HOA boards need to be prepared with effective strategies for dealing with the disputes that occur from one household to a neighboring household. The strategies need to be fair to lead to resolutions that prioritize communities’ values and aforementioned standards.
Knowing whether or not an HOA should insert itself into a dispute between households is essential. However, as with most things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Anyone who tells you otherwise is not taking into consideration the nuances of said disputes and the potential for unfavorable outcomes that fail to uphold community standards and follow stated and agreed upon rules fairly and equitably.
Types of Homeowner Association Disputes
As it often happens, HOA disputes can occur due to interpersonal issues. One of the more common types of disputes an HOA board will see brought before them is a result of personal and intimate relationships. For example, neighbors who are dating turn to the board following negative outcomes where one party or another feels they have been wronged.
By and large, an HOA board will not see it fit to involve itself in a dispute of this personal nature. A board will want to appear neutral and unbiased when it comes to favoring one party over another in these types of disputes and generally speaking these disputes are best resolved elsewhere.
What’s important to remember is that an HOA will have something called governing documents. These documents outline behaviors deemed favorable and behaviors deemed unacceptable and in violation of the rules and standards set before members of the community. Governing documents should be accessible and transparent to ensure equal access to information. Information should always be disseminated in ways that are cognizant of the demographics of the community.
When all members have equal access to the governing documents and the valuable information held within, it is much easier to enforce the rules and standards when a dispute pops up. What’s more, HOA boards that involve community members in the decision-making process and allow residents some agency in outlining the rules that govern the community, the result can be less frequent HOA disputes among neighbors.
Lowering the frequency and severity of homeowner association disputes by practicing community involvement and transparency in the decision-making process is the first step to consider when thinking about HOA disputes. Mediation for HOA disputes is the best way forward in creating favorable outcomes.
With that said, here are some of the most common types of home association disputes that boards will see brought before them:
Noise complaints may well be the most common type of dispute an HOA board will involve itself in. Residents and community members who enjoy loud parties, blasting televisions, high volume music, and the like are bound to cause some problems in the housing association.
Anxious or untrained dogs can contribute to noise pollution in a major way. Sometimes pets are left alone during the owner’s workday and the result is anxious and persistent barking. Neighbors will expect some amount of barking, but any excessive barking from pets can be cause for HOA board involvement.
Neighbors with children playing outside can be lively and exciting places. But when children themselves are not behaving according to agreed up and clearly expressed and documented community standards it can create a lot of turmoil for the community.
Issues of aesthetics in a housing community can include unkempt trees and landscaping, untrimmed grass in yards, unemptied trash cans and recycling bins, visible outdoor clothing lines, clutter, disorder, and more.
Property Maintenance Problems
The list of potential property maintenance issues can go on and on and can become very problematic for the community. Houses in disrepair can be unsightly and unsafe. Therefore these issues should be taken seriously and all steps should be taken to prevent disrepair and neglect of the property. Of course, maintenance issues are bound to arise, but they should be handled with timeliness and integrity.
Odors from food are a surprising, but common issue in housing associations. This is an area of dispute that should be handled with a great deal of cultural awareness and consideration for the fact that cooking is necessary and can vary widely from household to household.
Illegal Activities and Disruptive Behaviors
Illegal activities can be clearly defined by federal, state, and local laws. However, disruptive behaviors need to be clearly defined in governing documents to create equity and avoid problematic and unfair interpretations of behavioral policies.
Resolving homeowner association disputes prior to litigation can be extremely beneficial. Bringing claims of this size to court often results in the losing parties paying exorbitant fees. For a more cost-effective, timely, and effective solution, contact Breakthrough Mediation.