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Homeowner struggles with water damage from negligent neighbor and HOA that refuses to take accountability: 'It's charged back to the neighbor'

"You have to take it up with your neighbor."

"You have to take it up with your neighbor."

Photo Credit: iStock

One homeowner recently found themselves in a soggy situation and turned to Reddit for advice after their HOA refused to take action despite the threat of water damage. 

"I live in a unit where the sprinklers go from the source to my first neighbor's backyard, then to mine, then to my other neighbor," they explained in the subreddit r/HOA. "I have my sprinklers all capped because I don't need the water as I have drought-resistant plants."

"The problem is that my first neighbor has broken sprinkler pipes," they continued, adding that the ground on their side of the fence was now "almost always damp" because water floods their property from under the fence every night. 

They said that the wall separating their properties was also in disrepair, and their neighbor appeared to have moved from the building. 

Frustratingly, though, the original poster said their homeowners association declined a request to fix the issue, telling them that "we are all responsible for the sprinklers in our areas."

"Do you guys know of any law or precedent that would describe what to do in this scenario?" the OP asked

Other Redditors were happy to provide further guidance, offering suggestions to the OP about which questions to ask to get the result they wanted.

"You have to look at your documents to see 1) who owns the sprinklers, and 2) who owns the wall. You or the HOA?" one person said

"If your neighbor is MIA, you or your [board] (review your docs) have the right to enter the property and effect repairs to stop the damage to your property. Then it's charged back to the neighbor," someone else wrote

While the OP might still be investigating whether the damaged sprinklers technically fell under the jurisdiction of the HOA, their disillusionment with the governing body was unfortunately an experience more than one homeowner can relate to. 

Many people have encountered roadblocks when trying to make eco-friendly, money-saving adjustments to their homes, with HOAs frequently denying requests or reversing decisions with little explanation.

In one case, a homeowner received approval for solar panels before later being told to remove the pollution-reducing installation. In another, an HOA tried to force a couple to mow their meadow, which was filled with pollinator-friendly native plants

You can successfully work with the organizations or challenge rulings, though, and it doesn't hurt to highlight the benefits that updates or fixes provide.

In the case of the OP, all that water waste could attract an unpopular disease-carrying pest. It's unclear if any of the liquid was accumulating, but mosquitoes typically breed in standing water. 

"I'd recommend you send an email to your community manager (so that your concern is in writing)," another Redditor advised. "Ask for direction on where you can find the information you need in the [covenants, conditions, and restrictions]."

"If the [CC&Rs] say it's owner responsibility, the HOA can't do anything, unless it somehow falls under a different [CC&R], and you have to take it up with your neighbor," someone else said.

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