One of the best things about living in an HOA-managed community is that you have a state-regulated legal entity to keep you and your family safe, and ensure that peace is upheld amongst neighbors. You also have a legally-bound, neutral entity to turn to for disputes and complaints between neighbors.
What can you do if your neighbor filed a complaint against you?
If you were contacted by your HOA because of a complaint filed against you by your next-door neighbor, don’t fret. And try not to get angry either. Know that a complaint doesn’t immediately mean you’re guilty of whatever your neighbor is accusing of or that you will be immediately evicted from the community. Here’s what you can do if your HOA notifies you about the complaint:
1. Stay calm and composed
Once you receive word from your homeowners association about the complaint, stay calm and keep your composure. Your neighbor will probably be waiting for your knee-jerk reaction (which they could use to further fuel their complaint saying your anger is but one more proof of your guilt), so don’t give them the satisfaction of being right.
2. Review details of the complaint
The complaint should clearly state the specific issue down to the last detail (date, time, parties involved, witnesses, etc.). Back-track and review events as you remember them. It’s important here to be as clear about your recollection as possible. Write down specific details that you remember from the incident as you might be able to use these on your dispute.
3. Know your legal rights
Do your own research about your legal rights as a member of the community. Review the HOA’s CC&Rs. Research on state regulations regarding the specific issues raised by your neighbor, if applicable. To make sure too that you won’t be violating any laws or stipulations from the HOA’s by-laws and CC&Rs, consult a lawyer. If you only need general advice, there are sites online that offer free legal counsel and consultation. Check them out to see if they can help you with your specific concern/s.
4. Attend the HOA-mandated hearing of your case
The HOA will be doing its own investigation about the complaint and if they find that the complaint has merit, they will schedule a hearing, which is basically the board inviting you and the complainant to a meeting to hear both your sides. It’s important to attend every hearing because your absence could be construed as disrespect for the board and the HOA (which could be a point against you).