What You Should Do Before Filing a Formal Complaint
Living in close proximity to each other has advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners can get upset with their neighbors for a variety of reasons, such as trash cans being left out, deferred home maintenance, landscaping, fencing, and even barking dogs.
Many common reasons for disputes are addressed in the governing documents for the IHCA, and owners are encouraged to communicate directly with their neighbors prior to seeking assistance from the IHCA and requesting intervention or calling the police.
Here are a few of the actions I recommend before escalating your concerns:
- Take a step back to look at the situation. Identify the problem: Is there something else going on? Is your neighbor traveling, ill, had a recent death in the family, divorce, loss of job, or another major life event that may be temporarily causing this issue? In this time of COVID-19, many of us are overwhelmed and overloaded.
- Could you offer any assistance to your neighbor? Offer to take in their garbage can, mow their lawn, fix the fence post. Most of the time, neighbors would welcome the help or be motivated to take on the task that needs to be accomplished themselves. Is there a compromise that could be offered to help bring resolution to this issue?
- Discuss the problem in person with your neighbor after you have calmed down. When you are ready, talk to your neighbor in a non-confrontational manner. Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman offers this tip: “Approach the situation in a pleasant way, ‘You may not have realized this, but….’ Start here rather than resorting to a nasty note or a call to the police that will be sure to permanently strain your relationship. Also, use good judgment in identifying real problems: a party on a special occasion is one thing; a continuous stream of parties that interfere with your sleep on a regular basis is another.” (From “10 Tips to Be a Good Neighbor,” as published on Hitched.com.)
Often when we ask an owner filing a complaint with the IHCA if they attempted to talk to their neighbor, their response is “Nope I have never talked to them and I don’t want to.” Life is too short not to know your neighbors. You don’t have to be best friends, but we encourage you to attempt to communicate. We would be happy to assist you in contacting your neighbors but cannot give out personal contact information directly.
Unfortunately, there are times when actions must be taken, whether it is under IHCA authority or for the Issaquah Police Department. Trust your gut; if you feel threatened or feel something is not right, call 911 for emergencies or the IPD non-emergency at 425-837-3200. Remove yourself from the situation and walk away until authorities can assist you.
To file a formal complaint with the IHCA, we ask you to put your concerns in writing. Provide information such as dates and times of infractions and send pictures or video for us to review. We will take appropriate action to start the non-compliance process, if warranted. You may need to go on record with the complaint. If the reported offence is only visible from your vantage point, either witnessed, photographed, or videoed, you will be asked to go on record for the IHCA Board of Directors and/or a court of law. We do not issue non-compliance notices based on a verbal report; it must be verified by an IHCA team member.
Find the IHCA formal complaint form on our website.
Lastly, if all else fails and there is no solution to be found, we recommend mediation. Mediation is an opportunity to have both parties present with a mediator who can ensure each party has a chance to effectively communicate their concerns and work to resolve the issue at hand. Typically, the cost is split between both parties.
Most issues can be resolved by communicating with your neighbor directly. Be a good neighbor and attempt to take a proactive approach.