Barking dogs, loud parties, offensive odors…does this sound familiar yet? These were the topics discussed at our August Board Education course on nuisances. James McCormick of Peters & Freedman entertained the almost 40 attendees as he discussed the best approach in dealing with nuisance complaints within the community.
Nuisances in general can be a gray area and the definition is broad. Something that is offensive and a nuisance to one may not be a nuisance to others. How should a Board of Directors determine if a violation of the nuisance clause exists? The main point of James’ discussion was investigation. If a nuisance complaint is received, the Board should investigate the situation by determining how many are affected by the nuisance, the severity of the nuisance and attempt to witness the nuisance itself. Depending on the nuisance, other appropriate investigations can also be made.
If the Board determines a nuisance does exist, the Board, through management, should follow the Association’s adopted Violation & Fine Policy by sending a violation letter and scheduling a Hearing if the issue is not resolved. At the Hearing the Board can vote to impose a fine and suspend common area privileges, if the documents allow. The owner should continue to be called to a Hearing and fined until the matter is corrected and an offer made to meet with the owner using the Internal Dispute or Alternative Dispute . If the owner is unresponsive and the fines do not compel the owner to resolve the issue, the Board should seek legal advice as to whether or not to proceed with legal action.
Additionally, other avenues can also be taken to assist with enforcement. The Board can determine whether the nuisance is also in violation of another section of the governing documents that is more direct, rather than the broad definition of nuisance. For example, a stored vehicle can be considered a visual nuisance, but there may also be a clause in the governing documents prohibiting vehicle storage. If the nuisance is also in violation of a County or City ordinance, the Board and individual homeowners may report the matter to the county or city code enforcement. Additionally, every homeowner also has the option of enforcing the governing documents against another owner.
The attendees enjoyed the class and the food from Corner Bakery compliments of Cardinal. Our next scheduled board education class will discuss board member basics including fiduciary duty on October 16th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Register Now!