Neighbor-to-Neighbor DISPUTES

What To Do When The Association Is Caught In the Crossfire — By Allison Peryea, Esq. —


ecause of the pandemic, more people have been working from home and homeschooling children. In the

meantime, housing expenses are increasing, and people are trying to save money by housing more people in smaller spaces.

The result is that there are more people at home. More people at home mean a higher likelihood of resident complaints about their neighbors’ at-home activities.

Examples of typical complaints include kids playing loudly, kitchen noises and odors, house parties, bathroom fans, smoking marijuana and cigarettes, and dogs barking. Relatedly, those who find themselves the “targets” of the complaints sometimes retaliate with claims regarding neighbor harassment. Confrontations can later occur.

More people at home results in more complaints about neighbors’ at-home activities.

24 Community Associations Journal | July-August 2021

And the community association can find itself in the middle, with requests from both sets of neighbors to take enforcement action.

When these requests are made, several questions arise on the part of the board and management: ` Does the association have to get involved? Can the association just claim that this is a neighbor-to-neighbor dispute?

` If the association has to get involved, to what extent is the required involvement?

` How and to what extent must the association investigate? ` How does the association make a decision? ` How does the association implement and enforce a decision?

` What happens if the association does not do anything? ` Who pays for costs incurred by the association?

Duty to Enforce

With respect to a community association’s duty to take enforcement action, a best practice is to comply with the guidance provided by Washington Uniform Common Ownership Interest Act (RCW 64.90, commonly referred to as WUCIOA). Other community association statutes provide vague direction about what a community

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