D.M. from Broward County, Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a neighborhood of single-family homes with an HOA. My backyard is adjacent to a canal which is approximately 100′ wide. The HOA board installed a very large water fountain almost immediately behind my house in the middle of the canal. The noise from the fountain is objectionable and can be heard inside most rooms on the back of my house. The peace and quiet of my home, especially outside by my pool has been ruined. In addition to the noise, there are three bright lights on the fountain and it runs until 11 PM, shining a bright light on my house and the surrounding houses. When the wind blows towards my house the odor of the canal water is quite strong.
All in all, this fountain may be marginally attractive to those owners that are a long distance from it, but it is a total nuisance up close. This fountain has detrimentally impacted my quality of life and negatively impacted the value of my home, because I’m sure that at least some future buyers will feel the same as I do.
Do I have any recourse under noise complaint laws in Florida, or any unfair treatment? This fountain forces those close to it to bear the undue burden of the noise and excessive light so that others may have a marginal aesthetic improvement.
Mister Condo replies:
D.M., I am sorry that you have been impacted by the addition of the fountain. I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. If you feel your rights have been violated and you wish to sue, I strongly suggest you contact a locally qualified attorney. As a piece of friendly advice, I will say that many Florida communities with water features, such as a canal, routinely have fountains. It is unfortunate that your fountain was added after you had already purchased your home. However, since the HOA installed the fountain on common grounds, I would think there is little you can do to stop it from running. You can make the case for a noise compliant by alerting the Board to the problem and they may be able to find a quieter solution but unless you can document a specific violation of law, I doubt they will do anything. 11:00 p.m. seems a reasonable time to shut off the fountain but you might suggest they turn it off earlier and mention the complaint of light intrusion but, again, unless they have broken any laws, I doubt they will change the schedule. As for the value of your home being negatively impacted, again, you would need to prove that if you were to bring suit. My advice is that you speak with a locally qualified attorney who can best advise you of your rights. All the best!