Two neighbors are constantly engaged in fighting. Can the association simply say “This is a private matter. It has nothing to do with us. We are not going to get involved.”
The nature and circumstances surrounding these arguments may require that the association thrust itself into the middle of the fight, or else be sued under the Fair Housing Act for allowing “Hostile Environment Harassment.”
Hostile environment harassment refers to unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to interfere with: The availability, sale, rental, or use or enjoyment of a dwelling; the terms, conditions, or privileges of the sale or rental, or the provision or enjoyment of services or facilities in connection therewith; or the availability, terms, or conditions of a residential real estate-related transaction. Hostile environment harassment does not require a change in the economic benefits, terms, or conditions of the dwelling or housing-related services or facilities, or of the residential real-estate transaction.
(i)Totality of the circumstances. Whether hostile environment harassment exists depends upon the totality of the circumstances.
(A) Factors to be considered to determine whether hostile environment harassment exists include, but are not limited to, the nature of the conduct, the context in which the incident(s) occurred, the severity, scope, frequency, duration, and location of the conduct, and the relationships of the persons involved.
(B) Neither psychological nor physical harm must be demonstrated to prove that a hostile environment exists. Evidence of psychological or physical harm may, however, be relevant in determining whether a hostile environment existed and, if so, the amount of damages to which an aggrieved person may be entitled.
(C) Whether unwelcome conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to create a hostile environment is evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the aggrieved person’s position.
Harassment can be written, verbal, or other conduct, and does not require physical contact.
(c)Number of incidents. A single incident of harassment because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or handicap may constitute a discriminatory housing practice, where the incident is sufficiently severe to create a hostile environment, or evidences a quid pro quo.
So, if an owner claims that another owner’s conduct is so severe that it interferes with their use or enjoyment of the dwelling, that at least triggers a requirement by the association to find out what the owners are fighting about. After investigation, if it is clear that one owner is harassing another and preventing their right to use and enjoy their dwelling, the association has an obligation to interfere and take action against the offending owner.