SPARKS, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- What's in a contract? That is the question some homeowners are asking now that a residential care facility may open in their neighborhood.
News 4's On Your Side investigates if it is legal.
Every homeowner in the Kiley Ranch neighborhood signs a copy of the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions for the neighborhood, otherwise known as CC&R's. They are rules you are supposed to live by.
Homeowners said they signed these CC&R's when they moved in. The question is, whose job is it to enforce the contract?
Kiley Ranch Homeowners Frank Tennies and Suzie Price said they are concerned about plans for what they have been told will be an assisted living center across the street from their homes on Rainwater Court.
"There will be perhaps ambulances, perhaps fire rescue, perhaps traffic," said Tennies.
"We didn't buy this house to have businesses around us," added Price.
Tennies and Price said they and the other homeowners in this neighborhood signed a contract, a declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. The CC&R's clearly state that "no part of the property shall ever be used for any business."
But while they do have CC&R's, what they do not have is a Homeowner's Association to enforce them.
Tennies and Price found out the city would not enforce them either. "We're not a party to that legal agreement," said City Manager Steve Driscoll. "CC&R'S really is a private property right between the homeowners."
Licensing of assisted living facilities is handled primarily through the state Division of Health and Human Services. The agency confirms it has received an application to open an assisted living center at an address on Rainwater Court.
That is not unusual. News 4 found there are dozens already operating in the city of Sparks and complying with city codes.
"Health care professionals feel that residential care is best accomplished in neighborhoods," said Driscoll. "It's an allowed use."
Allowed under zoning guidelines, but not necessarily CC&R's.
So what happens if you feel your CC&R's are being ignored? On Your Side found there is an inexpensive option. It is offered through the Nevada Real Estate Division and it does not involve going to court. Instead, both sides agree on a mediator to settle their case out of court.
"There is a panel of mediators or referees approved by the Real Estate Division, and when you file that claim you serve it on the other side and the parties choose a mediator or a referee," said Attorney Gayle Kern. "I think its a great mechanism when you have CC&R's and you need to enforce them."
Kern represents 300 Homeowner's Associations. She said the mediation program gives frustrated homeowners seeking answers somewhere to turn. "95% of the time, we get a resolution."
Residents like Suzie Price said they just want someone to enforce the rules they signed when they bought their home. "We bought this house to live in until we die. We didn't plan on moving."
It only costs $50 to file a claim with the Real Estate Division. Last year, they settled 134 cases in Nevada.
News 4 did not receive a return call from Tennies' and Price's neighbor to find out more about his plans for the care facility.
On Monday, Frank Tennies dropped off a signed petition from over 80 neighbors in an effort to encourage the city take another look at their concerns and enforce the CC&R's.