Dispute with HOA Board over Renter Noise

3 Replies

OK so, I'll try to condense this into a relatively short story. Please keep your "that's why I don't buy condo's, that's why HOAs suck, etc to yourself" lol. This is my first bad experience with an HOA in 5 years.

I rented out one of my condos to someone who has a child.  This condo is on the second floor.  The owner of the condo directly below me for the past 3 months has been complaining to my tenant saying the noise is unbearable and is happening 24 hours a day and they cannot sleep.  Communication has broken down between my tenant and the owner below.  

We found the majority of the noise was due to a creaking joist, which I made the HOA pay for (so they already do not like me). They have complained to my tenant about "meandering", which as I see it isn't actionable. They also complain about the child running around in the middle of the day. Again, not something that I feel is actionable.

The owner below happens to be on the Board and continues to act as a member of the board during this dispute btw.  

I have tried to get the board and both my tenant and the owner below together so we can discuss the problem and my tenant (after me coaxing him) is willing to go. But the board refuses to meet and thinks that it isn't necessary and that it is entirely my tenants fault. IE, they will not hear his side of the story, and immediately took the owners side below because she is on the board and "She is a nice person and goes to the same church as me" - the HOA President. They have issued their first noise violation and don't have any proof of any noise actually happening. It is just a he-said/she-said situation.

My tenant has asked that I file a formal harassment complaint against the owners below because he cannot live in his own house anymore for fear of getting a noise complaint etc. When I filed the complaint, the HOA ignored it and refused to do anything about it.

Do I have any legal options to demand proof for the noise violation?  I believe both parties are at fault here, but I'm pretty sure my tenant is getting unfairly targeted in this.

I'll weigh in with my non-legal advice and say that you'll need to dig into your HOA bylaws to determine how formal HOA violations are addressed and, specifically, how they are to be appealed. You'll find out how they "should" be handled by the board and then you can hold them accountable for following said rules or be in legal jeopardy for not following their own bylaws. For example, it might possibly say that appeals should allow the owner to formally appeal in front of the board, in which case your request for a meeting to include your tenant should be granted per the bylaws. Reminding the board of their own bylaws would help you gain an audience to resolve the dispute. Looking at the noise issue on its own, I would say that you need to consider requesting your tenants buy carpets taking up at least 60% of each room if hardwood type flooring is in place. If its all carpeting, then I dont think there is much else to do. A family is entitled to live in an apartment and as long as the quiet hours are being respected, then they cant discriminate against families that are trying to control their kids as best as possible and reasonable sound dampening is put in place like carpets in all rooms. As for the board, they should be convinced that not following their own bylaws could result in legal problems and it is in their interest to grant a meeting to find a solution. They should be avoiding liability, not risking more liability. Proposing carpeting should be one of those proposals to resolve the violation. Your answers are in your bylaws. while you are there, look up the rules on noise and quiet hours etc so you know what they say on the issue and whether their complaints match what the rules require. You can trip them up sometimes with the specific noise complaint not rising to the level of what the rules actually say. Good luck!

Agreed - time to lawyer up (and I say that as somebody who serves on boards).

Doubtful that the noise is 24/7, so there's some exaggeration going on.

Noise during non-code hours is not noise. ie - if your HOA or municipality has a no noise after 10:00 pm rule, then any noise prior to that is not actionable. Any noise after that has to be above a certain decibel (usually - a lawyer will know or be able to find out).

The downstairs neighbor should absolutely be recusing themselves from all discussions of this issue as a board and abstaining from all votes involving the issue.  If they are not, this may be an ethics violation - check your covenants and policies to see if they have one.

There are three types of people who serve on HOA boards.

1.  Do-nothings

2.  Do-Gooders

3.  Power mad despots.

You've got a #3 who is viewed by their fellow board members as a #2.  Time for you to start attending board meetings and running for a position on the board at the next opportunity.

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