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Handling neighbor issues in an HOA community

If you live in a community with a homeowner’s association, you already know that this organization handles maintenance, bylaws and other rules and regulations of the neighborhood. An HOA may have jurisdiction over everything from what color you paint your front door to where you park your car.

When you have a problem with neighbors, whether you suspect drug use at the home or you hate the sound of their dog barking, follow these steps to pursue the issue with your HOA.

Review governing documents

 When you bought your home, the HOA should have provided a copy of its bylaws and other governing documents. If you do not have this information, call the HOA to request a copy. The bylaws will detail the process for reporting a neighborhood nuisance and indicate the specific actions prohibited within the community.

Contact the appropriate party

 In California, most HOA governing documents have a nuisance section and a list of the appropriate contact persons for various issues. Start the process by getting in touch with that individual using the information provided. If your documents do not give a specific contact person, call your general contact for the association.

Follow up in writing

 Even if the documents provide a phone number, you should follow a phone call with an email or letter that details your complaint. Indicate specific dates and provide documentation that supports your claims, such as photographs or copies of communication with your neighbor. Send a copy through certified mail so you have proof of receipt.

Elevate your complaint

 If the HOA does not respond to your satisfaction and you have exhausted the remedies detailed in the bylaws, you can complain to your town, county or state authorities. California limits state complaints against an HOA to financial and reporting violations.

The state attorney general recommends contacting an attorney for other HOA-related complaints. This includes neighbor nuisances that the HOA does not resolve after following the established procedures in your community bylaws.