HOA Dispute - Construction Impacting Other Units

4 Replies

Hi fellow BP members,

I'd appreciate opinions and suggestions from those members who have HOA experience similar to the following:

Background: My wife and I own the bottom unit in a two-family home.  Each unit has 50/50 voting rights (one trustee per unit). New owners purchased the upstairs unit in late April 2018 and have been undertaking renovation work (full gut renovation) from early May 2018 to present date. Construction is slated to complete Sept 1st.

Problem: During their renovation, the upstairs neighbor added a washer/ dryer in the basement. In installing, the contractors drilled through the exterior vinyl in order to add duct work for external venting. In order to do this, they drilled through the exterior vinyl, gypsum sheathing, etc of the house (considered a common element/ shared HOA item). I have no problem with the neighbor adding a vent, however, the location happens to abut our bedroom wall, where there is open space. Our HOA documents clearly note that any structural change or change to the exterior of the home requires written approval of the trustees. The neighbor did not undertake this step. I mentioned that while I understand the need for a vent, if it creates noise and disrupts our sleeping, then he would be responsible for remedying it. He claims he should not be responsible and refuses to accept responsibility for remedying it on his own. For context, I've given him leeway in several other areas relating to HOA policies since he is new (i.e. contractors started demo/ construction prior to the quiet hours noted in our CC&R's several times during the weekend. My wife and I let the issue go twice without issuing a fine) and had mentioned to him verbally in late April/ early May that notice is needed in the event of any changes and that he should review our condo docs.

This leaves me with a conundrum. Do I work to resolve the issue (and contribute my money to help resolve the issue created by him)? Or do I draw a hard line in the sand and point to the HOA rules drawn out in the Trust, Bylaws, and CC&R's and pursue legal action if he continues to refuse responsibility? I plan to keep the unit for a long period of time and so ideally I'd like a peaceful coexistence. He claims ignorance and mentions he told me about this verbally, which does not make sense - otherwise I would have redirected him based on the location of the vent. He has not made much effort to abide by HOA rules or listen to us when making decisions that affect both parties. We did not run into these types of issues very often with the prior neighbors. How have others effectively dealt with these types of HOA situations?

I appreciate any and all suggestions and/ or shared experiences.  

Many thanks!

If you're going to have the HOA start poking around and enforcing rules... you better make sure you are in adherence to EVERYTHING. If so, then let the HOA deal w/ it....

@Peter C.

This is one of the main reasons why HOA and by-laws exist. Unfortunately, by not enforcing some of the clauses at the beginning it set a precedence of the flexibility of the rules. Technically, under this scenario, the vent does not appear to constitute a "structural" change, it may also not constitute a change to the exterior (it depends on what the HOA guidelines say), most of the time an exterior change has to do with adding/deleting doors, windows, and changing the facade and color.

Per your statement," he has not made much effort to abide by HOA rules and/or listen to you". As much as it sucks, it sounds like you need to establish the boundaries. If for anything to ensure nothing like this happens again. There are some potential solutions such as creating a schedule (say not drying after 10 PM), you can also look into white noise sounds machine that should drown the noise.

Good luck,

Many thanks, @Milton Rivera I should have been more precise in my wording. The HOA Declaration of Trust it states the following:

"No unit owner shall make any addition, alteration, or improvement in or to his unit or any portion of the common areas and facilities to which he has the exclusive use, which may affect the appearance, structure, or mechanical systems of the condominium, or which is otherwise restricted by the Master Deed without the prior written consent thereto of the Trustees. The Trustees shall have the obligation to answer any written request by a Unit Owner for approval of such a proposed addition, alteration or improvement within thirty (30) days after receipt of the request, and failure to do so within this time period shall constitute a consent by the Trustees.  Said request shall include adequate plans, specifications and similar items, so as to enable the Trustees to reasonably review such request, and the period for response herein provided for shall not begin to run unless and until such are so provided."

Your approach makes complete sense.  The nice guy (me) finishes last in this scenario.  

To maintain a civil relationship going forward, I'll aim to chat with him to establish some rules/ boundary for use of the dryer. I did have a discussion with him in the latest HOA meeting to state that going forward all changes should be requested in writing. Hopefully they begin to understand that HOA living requires a mutual respect and understanding of the other unit owners.

I’m not getting the issue with the dryer vent.....are you saying air going thru the vent on the outside of the wall a certain distance from your exterior bedroom window is going to cause a noise issue for you, inside?

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