How to Curtail Online War with HOA Member

How to Curtail Online War with HOA Member

Regardless of how well you manage a condominium building or planned community, inevitably, some homeowners will complain. Not everyone will agree on decisions that are made. And the way in which associations operate—homeowners live essentially under the rule of elected leaders—can breed resentment. Sometimes, complaints are well founded, but it’s not surprising that others are mean-spirited or have no basis in fact.

You can’t prevent angry residents from using publicly accessible websites or social media channels to air their grievances. But here’s how you can respond appropriately to combat unwarranted vicious comments.

  • Send warning letter to member. When you learn that a member is posting negative information about your association or is perpetuating disputes online, don’t panic. Work with the association’s attorney to draft and send a letter warning the member about the consequences—including legal action—of making vicious and/or untrue statements online.
  • Retool association website. If disgruntled members are using the association’s website to make negative comments, change the format so that only board information can be posted, and take away the option for owners to respond in any way on that website.
  • Determine whether defamation is actionable. After a negative comment is posted about the association, you, or a board member, talk with the association’s attorney to ask whether it’s actionable—that is, whether there is sufficient reason to take legal action. The attorney should be able to advise the association about whether it should pursue a libel and slander lawsuit.

For tips on exactly how you can use your management skills to diffuse this type of situation, plus an example of a warning letter to send to a member, see “Protect Association from Negative Online Comments,” available to subscribers here