Nuisance complaints among homeowners often result in legal action by a homeowners association (HOA).
Prompt action in enforcing HOA rules is essential, even when the nuisance complaint refers to a unique situation without precedent.
Common nuisance complaints
Nuisance complaints generally consist of one or more of these issues:
- An activity that interferes with the quiet enjoyment of other community residents
- Conditions that are hazardous, noxious or otherwise offensive
- The violation of a law
Common nuisances include smoking on balconies or patios, noise from overhead units, the behavior of children, the behavior of adults or pet issues.
The duck issue
There are also unique nuisance complaints such as the duck-feeding issue that arose in one Texas community. An elderly couple enjoyed watching ducks from the comfort of their porch. The wife decided to feed the ducks, but other residents objected saying the ducks were damaging their gardens and leaving feces on their grass. The HOA responded that the elderly duck feeders were violating community rules, causing “unclean, unhealthy, or untidy” conditions. The HOA commenced legal action against the couple. If the court ruled against them, they could be liable for up to $250,000 in fees. If they do not or cannot pay the fees, the HOA could try to foreclose on their home.
Most community association governing documents contain a section that addresses nuisances. Even if a nuisance complaint only affects one other party or arises from a completely unique circumstance, the association must act promptly to enforce the provisions of the governing document. Otherwise, the association may lose the opportunity to enforce those provisions. The HOA should seek legal guidance to better understand its position and whether an option other than a lawsuit is advisable in attempting to settle a nuisance complaint.