Most homeowners love living in a community. They enjoy the freedom from having to care for the outside of their home or landscaping, access to amenities like a fitness room or pool, and they mostly appreciate having good neighbors with whom to socialize. Unfortunately, there are times when even a good neighbor can get on everyone’s nerves with nuisance behaviors.
How Do You Define a Nuisance Behavior?
Nuisance complaints are a major cause of legal action in HOAs, both by and against homeowners. Typically nuisance behaviors include: an activity that unreasonably interferes with the use or quiet enjoyment of another resident, a behavior that is hazardous, noxious or offensive, or one that is a violation of a local, state, or federal law.
Sometimes these rules are just common sense, like don’t ride a skateboard in your unit hallway at 2 in the morning thus waking everyone in the building. Other rules, however, should be clearly spelled out so that each unit owner is aware of expected behaviors. This is extremely important when living in a community where neighbors units abut each other.
Common Nuisance Behaviors
Every community is different, but some of the most common complaints address: noise, smoking in restricted areas, pet issues, bad behaviors of children or homeowners, and disputes about home businesses.
When units are arranged so that neighbors are living on top of each other, there are often problems with noises from above whether it is a loud neighbor, or one who’s lifestyle has them awake or asleep at opposing hours to the other residents. Noise becomes a contentious issue that can often be solved between neighbors in a respectful way.
Noise complaints often come from common areas where groups may not be aware of how loud they are or how voices can carry. Usually a friendly reminder can solve the problem.
The hazards of being exposed to secondhand smoke and the foul odor associated with this behavior can be enough to cause a serious issue between neighbors in an HOA. This is why it is extremely important for governing boards to clearly spell out where smoking is prohibited. Common areas where all homeowners can congregate should be marked as non-smoking so all community members can enjoy the space. If a homeowner is reported as violating this rule, s/he may face fines or legal action.
Children and adults alike should be made aware that their behavior impacts others, especially in a close knit community. If homeowners are unable to follow the common rules of being quiet in the hallways and common areas, or showing courtesy in the amenity areas, then some HOA boards reserve the right to revoke use of the common areas and amenities. Consult your condo documents to see what level of noise and behaviors may be considered inappropriate.
No one wants to hear a dog barking at all hours of the day or night. Typically an HOA has pet ordinances that encourage homeowners to keep their pets on a leash, dispose of pest waste, and notify homeowners on where in the community dogs are allowed. Some communities that do allow dogs have restrictions on the type, breed, and size of the pets. Be sure to consult the rules in order to keep your pet from violating nuisance behaviors.
Do you have nuisance behavior issues in your community? How was it handled? Were you satisfied with the results? Questions or comments? Contact Thayer Associates on our contact page or call us at (617) 354-6480.