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 )


 INFORM 


eople live in close proximity to each other in community


associations. People have a wide and diverse range of activities that interest or amuse them, some of which may annoy their neighbors. People have different expectations of what living in their community should entail. How can neighbors or boards best resolve disputes to avoid cumbersome hearings and litigation? Start by assuming owners are not knowingly and intentionally violating the documents to annoy their neighbors. Try to inform and  to strict enforcement as a last resort. This is a progressive process, which best supports the association should you ever end up in court.


Assume that the annoying neighbor is not aware


of how their conduct is perceived by others and try to help them understand. Most people do not intentionally annoy their neighbors or violate the governing documents. Try to educate the owner by asking them if they are aware of the rule or covenant they are violating. This often leads to self-correction by the owner. This step does not require a formal decision by the board that any violation occurred. If an in-person conversation with an owner is not practical, a polite warning or violation notice could be appropriate.


SUGGEST


Ask that occupants modify their conduct. You can


suggest ways to avoid annoying the neighbors. You might suggest changes by the annoyed neighbor as well to alleviate the problem. An example we had was a  annoyed the downstairs neighbor. The two were able to agree on a time every morning that the treadmill could be used that was less offensive. This process also does not require a decision by the board that any violation occurred. In person communication works best. Requiring impacted owners to discuss problems and possible resolution is usually reasonable for a board to do before it intervenes.


16 Community Associations Journal | November/December 2019 PERSUADE


This involves providing reasoning and authority to try and convince a


neighbor that they should modify their conduct. The reasons used could include anything from quoting the governing documents or case law, to appeals to an owner’s kindness and humanity towards others. This is an effort to convince the offending owner to change their conduct, again without requiring the board to pass formal judgment on whether a violation occurred (even if it has). Again, this activity may best be done in person, but may be done with a warning letter.


RE-EVALUATE


The above methods of trying to 


a formal evaluation of whether the objected to conduct is a violation of the association’s governing documents. Those steps can be done informally, with a focus on cooperative problem solving rather than strict enforcement. Some violations are obvious, but still require  imposing sanctions. Some offensive behavior is entirely in the eyes of the beholder. Noise complaints especially involve the perception of the listener, and a subjective determination of whether the noise is unreasonable under the circumstances. For such types of conduct, the board must make an independent evaluation using objective information about whether the conduct complained of is a violation. Without such an evaluation, the following actions taken by the board may not be supportable.


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