Your Neighbor in Real Estate: A Civic Lesson in HOA Rules Violation

A Civic Lesson in HOA Rules Violation

A Civic Lesson in HOA Rules Violation

According to the CC&Rs and the Rules and Regulations that govern our Homeowners Association, there can be no excessive barking by dogs. What is meant by ‘excessive barking’ is not defined anywhere. Is it 1 hour of continuous barking? Or 5? Or 7,10, 1 week? What??Cooper

Each and every resident will  have their own varied interpretation of this very general statement.

So back to the Civic Lesson. Someone has decided that my dog barks excessively and has filed a violation report. Not one violation report, but 4, count ‘em 4. You would think I had a howling wolf-dog animal that is never quiet!

Funny thing, though, three of my other neighbors say that my dog does not bark excessively.. Two have said that my dog barks only when they go to their side or back yard to water the lawn or take out the trash. That is all, and then he quiets down when it is over. Excuse me, but my dog is only doing what I pay him to do. That is his job! He lets me know when strangers are around my property.This is perfectly acceptable dog behavior.The third neighbor does not hear my dog at all. The president of the home-owners association has come by my house to see/hear if my dog is barking and has not heard him either.

Now another funny thing,(no, not really funny) is that when more than 1 violation has been issued, the subsequent ones have a $100 fine attached to it. So... the neighbor that thinks your dog is barking can file numerous violations against you to the tune of $300 or more and you are guilty until proven innocent. That is how it works here. Because the fines are there on your account and then you appeal them!

CooperThe city code ordinance that covers the same type of nuisance requires that the complaint be filed by not only the complainant but also by another corroborating neighbor. I can see the reasoning for this, since it would not just be on the word of one person, but validated by two people. No such rule exists here. Also the nuisance noise has to be in a log kept for at least 2 weeks. If my HOA had something like this on the books, I would not have received these violations.

Sometimes CC&Rs can enable some residents to think they have power and control over your life. Some consider it a form of passive/aggressive behavior by using the the rules and regulations as a hammer against other people. I am not alone in this belief. Two neighbors on the same block have said that if they had known that these same people would constantly harass them with unsupported violations, they never would have moved here. How is that for their quiet enjoyment of their investment?

The rules and regulations here have to be more in line with the city ordinance. I, myself, do not like excessive barking by any dog, especially the yappers. But when it happens, make sure you have the right dog offender before you start accusing people based on nothing more than conjecture. Also, the process of being guilty until you prove your self innocent smacks of  un-Americanism.

Members of the general public: Read all the CC&Rs, Rules and Regulations.Make sure you have clarity on them, and make sure you can live with them before you make that commitment to live in a homeowners association.. I read them, but did not think I would come across such despots.
Cooper


I will never again live in an HOA, even if my neighbor paints his house purple. My peace of mind is worth more.

Tonight, I will appeal these violations. Wish me luck or tell me if you think I am way, way wrong.


Sandy Acevedo ~Your Neighbor in Real Estate ~ Whether it is to buy or sell property

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Comment balloon 21 commentsSandy Acevedo • July 20 2011 07:33PM

Comments

Hi Sandy - It sounds like more of a neighbor problem than an HOA problem, and I hope your HOA sees it that way. But putting your peace of mind in the hands of a typical HOA can be a harrowing experience. I've been on both sides of this problem - a brief spell of insanity had me on our HOA board for 3 years, and we also had a complaint against us in a previous neighborhood (our house accent color was off by one square on the sample sheet - $500!). Dealing with these people from any angle is like a tour of hell.

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) over 8 years ago

Hi Dick, you are absolutely correct that it is neighbor problem. But one that may cost me money just because the neighbor does not like dogs and thinks she can control what others do. Tour of hell indeed.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 8 years ago

Sounds like your HOA is hurting for revenue and you as a realtor look like deep pockets.

If I were you, I would be at each and every meeting letting them know that it is your job to sell this neighborhood and to inform potential buyers about difficult situations within the community.

There are many buyers that don't want anything to do with HOAs for this reason, so the last thing I think your neighbors would want in this difficult market is another obstacle to selling their home, namely a difficult board to get along with.

Show them your bite is worse than your dogs bark.

Posted by Florida Tolbert Team Keller Williams Advantage, Keller Williams Land Division Specialist (Keller Williams Advantage III Realty in Lake Nona) over 8 years ago

Sandy, I SOOO feel your pain.  I have a sweet Cairn terrier named Sophie who is very good about letting us know when there is a meter man or pest control guy, etc around. She, too, is a great watch dog. I had a neighbor who after one minute of her barking...decided he'd yell at her and throw a rock her way (I think he'd been drinking).  Any way, now she goes crazy when she hears this back neighbor's voice.  Well, she used to.  I've been training her to NOT bark at him...by letting her go with a leash attached to her collar. If she begins barking at him...in she comes. 

I hope all goes well for you and they dismiss your fine! 

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) over 8 years ago

I don't even like to hear my own dogs bark, but dogs bark at "something" generally.  My sister in law raises American Bulldogs (Cooper is gorgeous and looks like he has lots of personality).  I hope you get this settled without it costing you the fine.  We do have a "no bark box" we have for when my mom comes over. 

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 8 years ago

That's the bane of HOA. Way too many rules and interpretations. Even turns neighbor against neighbor.

Good luck on your appeal...and your search for your next home where there won't be any rules.

Posted by Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA (Alain Pinel) over 8 years ago

Hi Kevin, I will tell them that the reputation of the board is as important as the home values in the community because they are sensitive to that. Thanks.

Hi Sonja, now that is one neighbor from hell. How awful!

Hi Tammy, American Bulldogs are smart, good dogs. He does have personality, too

Now I hate HOAs, Pacita. And yes, it turns neighbors. Instead of talking a situation, they file a complaint. Very adversarial.

 

I presented my appeal, and brought along 2 neighbors to validate that my dog does not bark excessively. I think that I was successful. I will know soon for sure. I also got it put on the agenda to discuss about changing the process of validating which dog is doing the barking. But I will still be moving within the year! Thanks all who comment their support. It gave me moral encouragement.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 8 years ago

Thanks for the great reminder regarding why I do not live in a subdivsion governed by a Homeowners Association.  I have enough trouble dealing with the HOAs as a Property Manager. Ugh. 

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 8 years ago

I suggest you go to the next meeting with a list of other people who have dogs that you feel bark excessively, Unless they will send citations to all those folks, then you might be off the hook. That is, if you do NOT want to fly under the radar.

Posted by Melissa Zavala, Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County (Broadpoint Properties) over 8 years ago

Hi Jeanne, sometime in the next 6 months, I hope to be on your side of the fence.

 

Hi Melissa, well they do send out to those  other dog owners but  sometimes the wrong dogs are targeted. People get old and crochetty and don't realize real people live here, not librarians.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 8 years ago

I hope you won.  And, really, there is innocent until PROVEN Guilty in the courts.  Get the HOA rules changed pronto.

Posted by Ron Marshall, Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire (Marshall Enterprises) over 8 years ago

Hi Ron, thanks for your support. I'll find out in about a week.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 8 years ago

Sorry to hear your troubles and some neighbors will complain about anything. I too have a dog and while she really doesn't bark unless there's an "intruder", my neighbors dogs bark and it's not a big deal. Best of luck and your pup is so cute!

Posted by Kristine Ginsberg, NJ Home Stager (Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC) over 8 years ago

Thanks Kristine. Love your new photo. He barks to let me know someone is there. It is not incessant!

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 8 years ago

Sandy - So sorry to hear about your issue with your neighbor.  Nothing worse than being around someone who doesn't like animals.  I hope things work out for you with your appeals.  Would be really curious to know how this all ends for you.

As I write this, I feel so blessed where I live.  One of the best things that hubby and loved about our home the first time we came to see it was that the street was full of kids and dogs playing (it was a Saturday afternoon).  When we got out of our car, people waived at us and said "Hi" and dogs came to check us out.  As dog people (we have three fur babies), we were already falling in love. 

In spite of all that, there are a couple of houses (we have 36 homes on our cul-de-sac street) that are NOT pet people (our pet loving neighbors told us who they were the first weekend we moved in).  Needless to say, these folks are a very vocal minority about all the dogs on the street.  So far, complaints have been nothing more than minor inconveniences rather than anything major like what you are going through.

It's pretty much the consensus here that if these folks didn't like dogs, then they should have picked another street to live on.  I don't know what the ratio of pet people to non people is in your complex but I would find a way to havee that benefit you. 

Posted by Donne Knudsen, CalState Realty Services (Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA) over 8 years ago

Hi Donne, thanks for your great comments and support. I should know soon what the outcome is. The ratio in my cul-de-sac is higher for the pet people. And that is why the non-pet use the barking rule like a weapon because they don't need to get proof of a violation. I am pretty sure the board will vote my way because 3 neighbors supported my claim. But I think it will be a temporary reprieve.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 8 years ago

Sandy, Poor Cooper, what about the Constitution "Freedom of Speech"? Take them to Supreme Court! LOL

 

Posted by Ellen Caruso (Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty) over 8 years ago

Who could be unhappy with a sweet canine face like that?...those mean, unreasonable people I say!

Posted by Steve and Jan Bachman, Realtors - Northern Virginia (RE/MAX Gateway, Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, Sterling, Fairfax ) over 8 years ago

I know, !! So true Steve, glad you agree about the face and the terrible, mean people.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 8 years ago

Sandy, My comment is a few months after the fact now. Did you escape without a fine?

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) about 8 years ago

Hi Wayne, Yes, I did, yay!!. Thanks for asking. The board of directors saw no merit or proof. But why did have to get to this? Just crazy...

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) about 8 years ago

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