Avoiding and Mitigating Owner Disputes in Community Associations

Avoiding and Mitigating Owner Disputes in Community Associations

By Laura Manning-Hudson / Published February 2024

Photo by iStockphoto.com/Srdjanns74

With neighbors living in close proximity to each other, all mutually bound by set rules and edicts, communities with associations are often fertile ground for spats and disputes. The best boards of directors and property managers understand that disputes between owners may arise from time to time and should strive to settle them as reasonably and quickly as possible in order to promote community harmony and quality of life.

     Disputes between neighbors sometimes arise and develop into ongoing issues and conflicts. Noise complaints involving loud pets, music, movies, parties, children, and others are common instigators as are strong and noxious odors and neglected lawn and landscaping maintenance.

     Most communities will already have bylaws and/or rules in place to enable them to arbitrate these disputes and use enforcement measures as reasonably necessary. When owners/residents bring their disputes before a community’s board, the directors should seek a thorough investigation and obtain all the pertinent information before deciding whether to take any action.   

     In many cases the property manager may need to become involved in the investigative process. Managers should focus their efforts on assessing whether any laws or rules were broken, the evidence and details behind the altercation, and how the given situation or dispute unfolded and/or evolved. The manager should look to the association’s governing documents and/or rules to guide their investigation, findings, and ultimate recommendations to the board for its vote and decision.

Photo by iStockphoto.com/Slphotography

     Needless to say, incidents involving allegations of violations of federal, state, or local laws may require legal action by the association and/or the involvement of law enforcement. Associations should consult with highly qualified legal counsel regarding any such developments.

     Association directors and property managers should understand that disputes between owners often become very personal matters of great concern to the individuals involved. Directors should acknowledge the importance of the entire issue to the parties involved but should endeavor to always maintain their impartiality and avoid any sort of favoritism.

     By focusing on the facts behind such conflicts and relying on the community’s governing provisions, association directors and property managers will be able to find reasonable resolutions and mitigate any potential for further

     Our firm’s attorneys write regularly about important matters for associations in our Newsroom blog at www.SiegfriedRivera.com/blog, and we encourage association directors, members, and property managers to visit it and enter their email address to subscribe to our newsletter and receive our future articles.

Laura Manning-Hudson

Managing Shareholder, West Palm Beach Office, Siegfried Rivera

     Laura Manning-Hudson is board certified as an expert in community association law by the Florida Bar and is one of the firm’s most prolific contributors to its Newsroom blog at www.SiegfriedRivera.com/blog. The firm also maintains offices in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, and its attorneys focus on real estate, community association, construction, and insurance law. For more information visit www.SiegfriedRivera.com, email LManning@SiegfriedRivera.com, or call 561-296-5444.