In every community, there comes a time where there might be a neighbor-to-neighbor dispute. Typically, these differences stem from a noise complaint, landscaping violations, parking violations or a misuse of a common area. In every instance, it is the hope of the Association that the neighbors can resolve the conflict themselves, but in some cases, there may be a need for the on-site manager or Board to assist in the dispute. However, there needs to be a determination if this dispute affects one neighbor or several of the HOA members. If the dispute only has an impact on a handful of owners, the Association will want to use its resources to help diffuse the situation.
Unless there is some law being broken, or if there is some violation, a neighbor-to-neighbor dialog is optimal. It is always better to see if the problem can be resolved without law enforcement. Once law enforcement is involved, their situation may be past the point where neighbors can be civil towards one another. Often, it is suggested that both parties participate in an informal mediation where they are emotionally sound so that heightened emotions will not get the best of them.
It is also important to note if this was a one-time offense or something that is happening on a more regular basis- It may be good for each neighbor to write down their grievances so that all of their points can be taken into account. Negotiations are best made through compromise, and each party should be able to come to the table being able to do so. Sometimes, the owners may decide to have a mediator set the terms of their negotiation. This could either be done by volunteers of the Association or perhaps a hired mediator. Either way, this stays in line with trying to find a peaceful resolution through compromise.
Another tactic may be a use of fines by the Association. With particularly troubling neighbors, sometimes the only way to resolve a dispute is to issue a fine to the owner. The HOA should provide the owner a detailed list of their rules and regulations, as well as the punishment that may occur if those rules and regulations are broken. This will at least give a level of expectation to the owner about the policies of the Association so that there is little left for interpretation.
It is inevitable that there will be disputes, and the best thing for the community when handling hoa neighborhood disputes is to handle them in an appropriate and amicable manner. The Association should always let the neighbors try to come to an understanding on their own and only impose fines or lawsuits as a last resort.
Related blog post: Love thy neighbor for deed restricted communities.