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What To Do When Homeowners Associations Get Pulled Into Disputes Between Neighbors

Neighbor disputes are difficult. Some HOA boards get pulled into disagreements between homeowners when one homeowner claims another homeowner violated a covenant, condition and restriction (CC&R). It may seem hard to justify the attorney fees and board time, especially when the disagreement does not affect the community as a whole.

What is a homeowners’ association to do when neighbors in the association are in conflict? From a board’s perspective, the first question is whether the board is required to get involved in a dispute between Association members.

San Diego attorney Gregory M. Garrison is a litigator with almost 30 years of experience in HOA matters. He has the knowledge and skill to help resolve your HOA dispute and can advise you on the best course of action for your Association.

HOA Governing Documents And Conflicts Among Residents

Most governing documents give the board the discretion to choose whether to take legal action for a potential violation and most HOA board documents mimic the discretion that is written into the California Civil Code Section 5975.

The text of this section allows the board and/or any owner discretion to enforce certain governing documents. If your governing documents don’t provide this kind of flexibility, they may need to be updated.

There are several routes a board or individual can take, depending on the following factors:

  • The nature of the neighbor dispute;
  • How prone to litigation the parties are;
  • To what degree the issue affects the homeowners or condominium association at large.

Four Routes To Resolving Your Dispute

A lawyer can help with the process of deciding how to resolve a dispute between neighbors. It is important for the board to behave in an unbiased manner, investigate, listen and document both sides of the issue before making a decision how to best proceed.

1. Mediation

The California Civil Code gives direction to homeowners’ associations, condominium boards or an aggrieved party to seek a solution other than litigation. The civil code directs boards to provide a “fair, reasonable and expeditious procedure for resolving a dispute within the scope of this article.” This form of mediation is voluntary, and the disputing parties must avail themselves of it. However, there are consequences for any party who refuses to participate in ADR in a HOA case.

2. Arbitration

In binding arbitration, litigants agree to have an agreed-upon arbitrator resolve their dispute in a private trial. This method is nearly always more efficient and cost-effective than taking a case to trial. As trial attorneys with almost 30 years of experience, we are well-suited to resolve cases in arbitration.

3. Do Nothing

In some circumstances, after listening to both parties, thoroughly investigating the complaints and considering the issues, a board can decide to do nothing about it and let the neighbors sort things out on their own. California courts have created a doctrine called “judicial deference,” which basically states that judges will respect a board decision that is based on through investigations, complies with the CCRs and the law. If you are a member of an HOA, it is best to consult a lawyer as the “judicial deference” option has exceptions and requires the board to follow a lawyer’s advice.

4. Litigation

At Gregory M. Garrison, APC, you will find respected attorneys with reputations for success in HOA litigation. Trial attorney Gregory M. Garrison is often sought out by other attorneys to assist with trial preparation and trial. Mr. Garrison has recovered significant verdicts and settlements.

Schedule A Consult

Attorney Gregory M. Garrison is focused, thorough and known for a no-nonsense approach to representation. Call 619-798-9501 or complete a simple online form. Consultations are free. Choosing the wrong lawyer isn’t.