Best Practices for Handling Disputes in Community Associations

June 28, 2022 Camilo Guaqueta

Living in a community association has a lot of potential benefits, from higher property values to shared maintenance. But associations are made up of people with different lives and opinions. It’s inevitable that at some point some neighbors may disagree and clash. These disputes can range from nuisance complaints to disagreements on common areas, lawn and exterior care, and more.

When disputes don’t directly involve an association, what can you do to resolve them equitably? Here are a few tips from the ONR team:


Tip 1: Make Communicating Easy – But Keep it On Topic

When minor disagreements fester under the surface with no way to communicate, they can blow up in nasty ways. More often than not, when a dispute breaks out between neighbors, you’re seeing only the tip of the iceberg. Creating a community message board is a helpful first step to nipping these types of problems in the bud. If you are an association or property manager, make sure to organize conversations by specific topics to try and keep conversations productive. It’s important to keep track of conversations to make sure things don’t get too heated or personal. Also, try and encourage residents to keep any association-specific communication on the message board instead of email or private messaging. Beyond being a shared forum for residents to voice concerns, a message board has the added bonus of documenting any concerns for future reference.


Tip 2: Respond to Disputes or Requests Quickly

One of the main reasons property managers and associations have turned to digital tools is their speed. The ability to submit complaints or service requests online lets you handle them much faster than traditional methods. It’s extremely important when dealing with disputes that both sides feel like their voice is being heard. And, as we’ve mentioned, the quicker any issues are addressed, the less chance they have to get out of hand. While an association is not obligated to get involved with every single dispute between neighbors, use your best judgment if you sense tensions rising too quickly. Even if there’s nothing the HOA or Condo can do to enforce a rule, you could still offer to mediate. Many modern platforms like ONR also give associations and managers a birds eye view of everything that’s going on in the association, giving them all the information they need to make their communities thrive.


Tip 3: Make Documentation Easy and Accessible

Many disputes simply arise from a misinterpretation of an association’s rules or laws. This can be especially true when people are using old documents or digging up references from emails. Keep all of your documents up to date and in one central place online, so residents can refer to them as needed. In addition to making life easier, it can also give any homeowners a chance to review the rules before submitting a complaint. Sometimes bylaws can be confusing, and having them online gives you a great opportunity to clarify any commonly misinterpreted items with everyone. Similarly, make sure any documentation from residents and homeowners is stored in a similar database to make it easy to refer back to.


Tip 4: Know Your Community Association Rules and Enforce Them Equitably

With the HOA or Condos rules and laws easily accessible to the community, it’s important to make sure they’re enforced equitably. If certain people are seen as getting preferential treatment, it can undermine the rules entirely. If there’s a rule that is universally disliked, consider a vote on it. The goal of connecting neighbors and the association is to heighten the feeling of equity. That is impossible if the rules seem arbitrary or inconsistent.



While association disputes might be inevitable, they don’t have to go nuclear. Ensuring your community has an easy, secure, and transparent way to communicate and document disputes is essential to keeping conflict to a minimum. ONR stands for “owners and residents” – and we truly believe that bringing neighbors together empowers everyone in an association. To learn more about how ONR can help solve common neighbor disputes and other HOA complaints, contact us today.