One of the duties of a homeowner’s association is to maintain the peace of the community. This sometimes puts them in the crosshairs of personal disputes. While it isn’t necessarily the HOA’s duty to mediate a solution to the issue, there are instances in which action might be appropriate. Being able to determine how to handle these situations is critical.
If you’re being pulled into a personal dispute, your duty is to remain neutral. Generally, you can’t intervene with the resolution of the actual issue, but you can address any impacts the situation is having on the community. For example, if two homeowners are cheating on their spouses with each other, your duty isn’t to stop the affair. Instead, you would have to address the fact that the yelling and screaming during the fight when one spouse found out about the infidelity broke the HOA bylaws.
However, recent changes in the law allow a homeowner to hold the Association responsible if a
homeowner is suffering certain types of discrimination from others in the community. The law imposes
a duty on the Association to prevent intra-homeowner discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion,
sexual preference and other protected categories
As a HOA representative, it’s always best to take a step back and investigate a situation before you react. The HOA should have a complaint process that should provide you with the basic information about the situation. Once you have the complaint, you can move forward with an investigation. Bring the results of that investigation to the board when a course of action can be determined.
Some issues might be complex. If you’re facing one of these, legal counsel might be beneficial. Your duty to protect the community means that you shouldn’t do anything in response to the situation that might lead to a legal claim against the HOA later if any of the involved parties takes issue with the resolution.