New Condo Guide

It is universal these days that Condominium Corporations hosts a page on social media forum. Memberships on FB or a blog should be reserved primarily for the owners of the residential units in the condominium. While the purpose of these social media forums should serve as a tool for the owners to meet their neighbours and build a strong community, it often becomes a forum to air frustrations with the developer, management, board and with other individual owners. It is not uncommon to read negative comments, referring to any of these groups, which may also give rise to potential defamation and lawsuits against the writer.

Living in a condominium community comprised of many people who do not share the same point of view can create fiction. It is important to recognize that Condominium Corporations have many real issues that owners are concerned about, which can be related to construction, finances, noise and human relations. Should condo owners deal with these issues on social media pages, and how should they express themselves in order to avoid legal consequences? Should these issues addressed in a different forum?

While membership on such social media pages is meant for the owners, other people like real estate agents and potential buyers have access to it as well. The content of the comments, which is an individual’s opinion, may not always reflect the actual situation and may be expressed in an abusive way. It may seem to the individuals a right to express their opinion without any consequence; however, this is not the case as it may be cause for the offended party to initiate a defamation and libel lawsuit. While a comment in a newspaper or on television is here today and gone tomorrow, a statement on the internet is there forever and it can also be copied and shared indefinitely.

It is true that our courts are still in the initial stages of dealing with such cases and it is a very costly process. The other impact is that once the “dirty laundry” becomes a public, it may impact the sale of the units in this particular condominium. A potential buyer may avoid buying a unit in a condominium corporation where the issues are “public knowledge” and it may affect the price of the unit.

On a practical basis, if the board and management do not have access to these social media outlets, how can they be expected to deal with the issue and resolve them?

One possible solution to deal with these issues is to create an email address in the name of the corporation. The recipients of this email would be the board and the management company, who will be able to address the issues. It is still reasonable to expect owners to use social media to express their issues/frustrations. This will require the site administrator to develop a code of conduct for the participants which they would be obligated to adhere to.

The code of conduct should have a disclaimer that the decisions of the administrator are final. In the event, where a party may feel that a comment that was made about them is of a defamatory nature, the site administrator would be asked to remove the comment from the site in order to avoid him being a party to potential legal action.

It is important to understand that social media is not the venue to resolve condominium issues, and comments made may have to be defended in a court of law. This is not something that anyone would like to experience as it may end to be a very costly lesson.

While social media create new social connections, it is important to remember is that it is just a virtual connection and face to face communication is lost. Social media lacks the element of personal touch, which is vital in condo living.


 

 

Shlomo Sharon is CEO of Taft Management Inc. and a member of CCI since 2002. Taft Management Inc. is an ACMO 2000 Certified Property Management Company and has been providing property management services since 1996. Visit the website www.taft-forward.com for further information or email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .