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Iowa coach's neighbor dispute headed to court

In California, real estate disputes involving neighbors and homeowners' associations can often be lengthy and combative, with all parties feeling strongly about changes that can or cannot be made to their homes and properties. These can disrupt the fabric of social life in a closely-knit community.

In one case, Iowa Hawkeyes football coach Kirk Ferentz has been engaged in an ongoing neighbor dispute for nearly two decades over road maintenance. In 2016, the neighbors sued Ferentz and his wife. The Ferentzes countersued, and the case is set to go to trial in February 2018. The Ferentzes own a home on a small street north of Iowa City. Since they moved in, they have preferred to keep the road made of gravel to discourage bypassers. However, their neighbors have objected to the gravel, saying that it was dusty, messy and hazardous to vehicles.

In addition, neighbors have also complained about the Ferentzes' row of trees along the road, alleging that the trees have begun to cut down on the width of the road and impede access. In 2003, one neighbor hired a contractor to replace the gravel on the shared road with a chip and seal surface and a homeowners' association was created to handle road maintenance. The neighbors came to several agreements in 2001 and 2015, but the Ferentzes have declined to join the HOA and have argued that they do not need to pay its fees or abide by its rules. Now, the court will rule on whether the Ferentzes need to contribute to the annual maintenance budget as well as a $37,000 sum for road maintenance work.

HOA and neighbor disputes can lead to lengthy battles that make everyone's lives less pleasant. A real estate lawyer can often help people involved in them to come to a successful resolution through a negotiated settlement.

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