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When your neighbor gets on your last nerve, you may be able to turn to your homeowners' association (HOA) for help.
HOAs are set up to enforce certain standards for their members under the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that legally bind each member. And that includes your aggravating neighbor.
So here's a general overview of how to legally enforce your HOA's rules against your neighbor:
1. Get a Copy of Your HOA's Bylaws.
Like a corporation, your HOA likely has a set of bylaws written at its creation which govern amending, restricting, or even enforcing its rules. The bylaws will likely have a specific procedure for making a complaint that a neighbor is in violation of the CC&Rs.
2. Actually Read Your CC&Rs.
Before you go around accusing your neighbor of being in violation of something, you might actually want to check the text of your CC&Rs. The CC&Rs are contractual obligations which bind each HOA member to the association's rules. Depending on how these rules are written, your neighbor's offending actions may fall in a "gray area" -- for example, if the CC&Rs only allow for "non-offensive" holiday decorations.
3. Give Your Neighbor Notice.
Your HOA's bylaws may require you to give your neighbor notice of a potential violation of the rules before you sick the HOA on him or her. Giving notice may also give your neighbor a chance to remedy the situation without you getting more involved. Just make sure to do it in writing (email is fine too).
4. Add the Complaint to Your HOA's Meeting Agenda.
Contact the person in charge of the HOA's calendar and ask that your complaint against your neighbor be added to the next meeting's agenda.
5. Present Your Complaint to the HOA.
At the next meeting of the HOA, present your complaint to the HOA board, along with any documentation or evidence you have of your neighbor's violation of the CC&Rs. The HOA is not a court of law, so its decision is not bound by any standards of evidence.
Need More Help?
If the HOA board denies your complaint, but you still feel your neighbor is interfering with your life in the community, you may want to contact a local real estate attorney to discuss your options.
To learn more about homeowners' associations and their rules, check out FindLaw's section on Home Owners' Associations.