Homeowners can choose the best HOA community for their needs and lifestyles, but they cannot choose their neighbors. Some homeowners may find themselves annoyed by the people living next door, and may even end up in conflict with them. As an HOA management company, we understand the inconvenience that bad neighbors can cause. Here’s how your HOA should deal with bad neighbors.
How to Deal with Bad Neighbors: Different Types You Might Meet
One of the best things about living in an HOA community is the tight, close bonds that homeowners have with each other. Having neighbors that you can trust and get along with adds to the level of security in your community. So, it can be a major disappointment when you move into your new home and discover that you have bad neighbors.
Who are these bad neighbors, in the first place? Here are different types of bad neighbors that you might meet.
1. The Noisy Neighbor
The Noisy Neighbor encompasses a broad range of behaviors. It can be a neighbor with/who:
- children who scream and throw tantrums all day long
- uncontrollable pet/s that make noise throughout the night
- throws parties ‘til the wee hours of the night
- plays loud instruments in their garage
2. The Annoying Neighbor
The Annoying Neighbor is someone who constantly involves him/herself in other community members’ businesses. They may patrol your neighborhood and try to police other homeowners who are not following the HOA rules — even though they have no official authority to do so.
The Annoying Neighbor can also be someone who constantly gossips. Every time you meet them, they will spill unsolicited details or stories about other people in your community. They may also act like a know-it-all and always think that what they say is right.
3. The Unaesthetic Neighbor
The Unaesthetic Neighbor doesn’t seem to care about the HOA rules and regulations regarding the physical appearance of their home. They might use unapproved exterior paint colors, have overflowing trash cans, overgrown landscaping, offensive signs on their property, and so on. They may also not care about shoveling shared pathways when needed or keeping their fences at the approved height.
4. The Criminal Neighbor
The Criminal Neighbor is someone that engages in illegal behavior in their home, and maybe even right in front of your eyes. They can also be a neighbor whose lifestyle or living conditions are considered health violations. Criminal Neighbors are much worse than your typical bad neighbor because they can cause significant harm to you and your community.
Bad Neighbors and HOA Neighbor Disputes
Bad neighbors can cause a lot of HOA neighbor problems in your community. At first, homeowners may choose to file neighbor complaints to their HOA board or management.
However, if bad behaviors continue, tensions can arise between neighbors. This can lead to aggressive behaviors such as verbal attacks, passive-aggressive actions, or even physical violence.
HOA neighbor disputes will not be good for your community. If matters escalate, the police might need to intervene. This can also result in costly lawsuits and other legal issues for the HOA. All these issues make your community unattractive to potential homebuyers.
How Should the HOA Deal with Bad Neighbors
If you want to avoid HOA neighbor problems and other negative consequences, here’s how you should deal with bad neighbors:
1. Follow Up Neighbor Complaints
As an HOA board member, you should always follow up on neighbor complaints. Try to do it as early as possible to prevent any escalation between the warring neighbors.
2. Send Notice Violation
If the bad neighbor has clearly broken the HOA’s rules and regulations, the HOA should send them an official notice violation. This informs them of their offense, which they might not even be aware of. The letter should include all the necessary details. It should also include fines if any, and what the neighbor should do to rectify the issue.
3. Mediate Between Neighbors
The HOA can play a significant role in de-escalating conflicts between neighbors. Your mediation can help calm an angry neighbor and make the community peaceful once again. If the HOA board member has personal relationships with one or both neighbors, it might be beneficial to have a third-party management company to mediate.
4. Take Necessary Action
If your previous efforts to deal with a bad neighbor does not work, the HOA can take further action. Make sure to check your CC&Rs, bylaws, and other governing documents on how to deal with bad neighbors.
For instance, the HOA may automatically evict a neighbor who is engaging in criminal activity or endangering the lives of your community members. If you are dealing with a violent neighbor, call the police immediately.
5. File a Lawsuit/Go to Small Claims Court
If you have bad neighbors what to do legally? In extreme cases, the HOA may choose to file a lawsuit or take the case to a small claims court. Legal matters can be very tricky to handle so HOA board members should consult their HOA manager or attorney on how to deal with bad neighbors.
How Should Homeowners Deal with Bad Neighbors
If you are a homeowner who is currently dealing with bad neighbors, remember that communication is key. You can avoid all the potential drama by simply making an effort to understand your neighbor’s perspective.
For instance, do they live a busy life? Do they have kids? Are they single or divorced? All of these personal situations can contribute to reckless behavior.
Get to know your neighbor. Once you have learned a little about them, take some steps to establish your roles as acquaintances instead of strangers. Who knows, even good friendships can develop from such a situation. If this doesn’t work, then you can always ask help or mediation from your HOA board or management.
Dealing with Bad Neighbors the Right Way
It can be stressful to deal with bad neighbors — both for homeowners and the board. But, the key here is to deal with the situation as fairly and level-headed as possible. It’s understandable that tempers will flare but such escalations will only mean more trouble for your community. As an HOA board member, look to your governing documents and/or HOA management company to find ways on how to deal with bad neighbors.