HOAs Need Appropriate Standards for Hard Surface Flooring in Condominium Units

A common problem experienced within homeowners associations that govern condominium communities which consist of stacked units that are located on multiple floors of a building is neighbor-to-neighbor disputes that result from the noise transmissions caused by hardwood flooring or tile that has been installed by a homeowner in an upper level unit. Frequently, such hard surface flooring is installed without approval from the homeowners association and in violation of the association’s governing documents, but in many instances the flooring was installed with association approval, but the association lacked adequate standards that were adopted to limit the level of noise that would be created by the flooring.

Owners of lower level condominium units that believe their unit has been negatively impacted by the noise created by walking on the hard surface floors in the unit above them contend that the flooring installed in the unit above them constitutes a private nuisance and expect assistance from their homeowners association in eliminating it. A private nuisance is a condition that interferes with an individual’s lawful use or enjoyment of their property. “Quiet enjoyment” is the right of a property owner or tenant to enjoy his or her property in peace and without unreasonable interference from others.

The CC&Rs for a homeowners association will almost always contain standard provisions that prohibit activities which are deemed to constitute a nuisance that interferes with the quiet enjoyment of other owners’ and tenants’ use of their property. The following is an example of typical standard-form language contained in CC&Rs that prohibits activities that are likely to be deemed a nuisance:

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