I wanted to take some time this week to talk about how to handle neighbor disputes in our communities. Our homeowners associations can no longer ignore these situations. When neighbors are having a dispute with each other, community managers often will direct them to settle it among themselves or involve a mediator if necessary. But in some cases, the association might be able to take action.
Our office has prepared this tip sheet for homeowners associations struggling with these kinds of situations.
When the association needs to step in:
■ If complaint involves a protected class; protected classes include race, gender, religion, familial status, etc. Nevada specifically includes a few more protections such as gender identity and sexual preference.
■ If the HOA can take action regarding the dispute: when the dispute is over parking, noise, harassment, etc. The HOA might need to take a look at its governing documents to determine whether it has the ability to step in.
What the association needs to do:
■ If the HOA has the ability to enforce covenants, conditions and restrictions, it must take action. HUD expects action by sending a violation, taking to hearing, imposing fines and sanctions or other action to end the conduct.
■ If the HOA does take action, it is expected to follow up with the victim to see if the action had any effect on the conduct.
The HOA cannot release information on the actions taken, but it can follow up to see whether the conduct has ceased.
Community rules to look for that might obligate the association:
■ “Quiet Enjoyment”
■ “No Violations of the Law”
If you have any questions or concerns on a situation, it is always advised to consult the association’s counsel.
Q: I live in Mesquite. For the past few years I have had to live with two little yappers and my neighbors are very stubborn and do not take responsibility for their dogs.
There are several other dogs near me on my street, no one else lets their dogs continue to cause a disturbance. I myself have a dog and I trained her not to bark. So it can be done.
I have brought this problem to the attention of my HOA board, and they called the dog owners to a hearing. The lady sat in the meeting and swore: “Not my dogs.” Well, I had given the board an audio recording of it. They assessed her a $25 fine, which I understand she have never paid. Actually, the board told me it has written several letters to her concerning the barking.
This has been going on for over a three- or four-year period. Frankly, I understand another neighbor has told her that if she does not solve the issue, they will — with some poison. Fortunately, that has not happened. It is not the dog’s fault. The owners could solve this by simply putting bark collars on the dogs.
I know other people have even gone to the extreme of having the voice box removed.
I have called the police at the request of the HOA board, and they have simply told me to contact my HOA. So I am in a circle of no results.
The latest is that my HOA manager in Las Vegas sent me a letter telling me the board no longer had any ideas and cannot do anything.
Well, my CC&Rs do clearly address this barking as disturbing problem; as I am sure the Nevada Revised Statutes also say that it will not be allowed.
A: The only enforcement power the association has is to fine a homeowner for noncompliance of any violation of the governing documents. Unfortunately, fining a homeowner does not always equate to compliance. For some homeowners, you could fine them until hell freezes over and the violation would still exist. Because Mesquite is part of Clark County, you should contact the Clark County animal control department.
Under the Clark County Code, 10.36.010, titled “Noise Annoyance”: “No person shall own, keep, harbor or possess any animal which, by loud or frequent barking, yelping, braying, crowing or other noise, causes annoyance to the neighborhood or to any person in the vicinity.” You can contact this department by calling 702-455-7710.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.