By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Over the past few weeks, the news of a nasty dispute in Stoney Hollow Residential Association (HOA) has made its rounds on social media. Andrew and Kelly Counts, the parents of 4 young children, have been sued by their next door neighbors, Irving and Anita Ward, who claim that the Counts children create a nuisance because they make too much noise playing in their playhouse and on the swing set in their own back yard.
Ironically, the Wards, who are so upset about the sound of children playing, have decided to retaliate by blasting vulgar music whenever the kids go outside to play. That has resulted in a counter suit by the Counts versus the Wards.
“It’s unfathomable,” Family being sued over noise caused by children playing outside
The news reports gloss over the fact that the HOA is also being sued, presumably for their failure to get involved in a neighbor dispute or, from the Wards’ perspective, the failure to do something about the noise that creates a nuisance.
Unlike some other HOAs recently in the news for denying homeowners the right to install play structures for their children (see here ), only to experience signficant legal backlash and negative media attention, Stoney Hollow actually approved the Counts’ playhouse.
The important point here is that one unreasonable or nasty neighbor – even if not a board member tasked with enforcing the restrictive covenants and rules – can decide to sue your HOA and create a legal expense and bad publicity that affects each and every owner in the association. Every dispute between two neighbors becomes your problem, no matter how petty or outrageous.
Let’s face it. Some people sue anyone they believe might have deep pockets – like your HOA.
Another point essentially missed by most reports is the fact that HOA houses are often built very close together, perhaps too close for comfort. Squeezing many houses into a small area is bound to lead to conflict and significant loss of privacy. And it becomes difficult to screen out unwanted noise from the neighbors, who, most of the time, are just doing stuff normal people do.