Get 1 year of free community web site hosting from Community123.com!
Thursday, September 24, 2020











HOATalk is a free service of Community123.com:

Easy to use website tools to help your board
Only members have access to all features.
Click here to join HOATalk for Free! Members click here to login and access all features.
Subject: Community newsletter
Prev Next
Please login to post a reply (click Member Login on the menu).
Author Messages
RobertaT1
(Washington)

Posts:3


08/15/2020 7:46 AM  
Some HOA members have been wanting their own website . Currently the MC handles that. The business part only. A member did try to put up a site
A few months ago which would have introduced the board to the community
With photo, brief bio an contact info but the president nixed that. Right now said community member has a no politics community web site ....just nice friendly Fuzzy warm info like recent photos, restaurant and book reviews etc. the site can do much more than that. BUT with the president and MC controlling the narrative and with all community issues to be posted and controlled by the MC, how far can a homeowner with posting any community info onto a Private for community site?
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9533


08/15/2020 7:50 AM  
This is clearly a case of "Be careful of what you wish for... you may just get it". What really is the purpose of having a "B*tching" website? Which this will basically turn into. If you want to make a private one do it on Facebook yourself or other social media. Think there are websites like "Neighborhood etc...".

Believe me, your not going to be happy with the results... It will be good for a bit and then go downhill to a rabbit hole in a quick minute...

Former HOA President
AugustinD


Posts:3901


08/15/2020 8:17 AM  
Posted By RobertaT1 on 08/15/2020 7:46 AM
how far can a homeowner with posting any community info onto a Private for community site?
If you are talking about a web site that an individual HOA owner starts with her or her own resources, then the HOA owner can go as far as the First Amendment and other law allows. The only legal problems are where commentary on the privately run, publicly available site is defamatory. Accusing a director or a manager of a crime, where there is no hard evidence of same, would run the risk of the HOA taking legal action against the person who made the comment and the sponsor of the web site.

The biggest problem I have seen is that HOA members post non-facts, on account of having zero understanding of the HOA's governing documents. E.g. lobbying for this 'little free library' must address what the governing documents say about use of common areas. Else I think whoever is doing the lobbying is stirring up emotions inappropriately without good reason.

Some boards have the HOA attorney send intimidating letters to those who establish such a web site. Sometimes with good reason. Sometimes just so the Board can exercises its ego and be bullies and control freaks.

One reason I support HOA owners, who have legitimate serious concerns, starting their own web sites is because the typical HOA Board has lots of money and HOA funded resources to use to harass owners. The puny owner has none of these resources. On the other hand, as I noted in the other thread, like 99% of owners do not understand what governing documents are and how the governing documents, far more than the board, determine the board's decisions.
RobertaT1
(Washington)

Posts:3


08/15/2020 8:32 AM  
The capitalized LITTLE FREE LIBRARY was and is the way it is always advertised. No undue influence to “educate” the community.
The issue was the MC dictating location of the library, not the board or community members being involved with placement. The objective is to provide something, anything as a community builder. In the five years I’ve lived here there has not been one community activity. NOT ONE. The apathy can be cut with a knife. I’m aware the board And MC have no obligation to provide The residents with any community building activities. Their ONLY obligations are to maintain the appearance of the community. I get that. But it might be nice to once a year offer a social or something and my feeble,
Efforts are to that end.


As for a website put up to be a B session, That absolutely is not and never will be the purpose of it. My question which was not properly
Phrased was this: The MC and the board are totally adverse to any HOA business Posted by anyone aside from the MC which is why the
Site offers NOTHING board related at this moment. I asked the MC if we could combine the two and the answer was NYET. So, I post non controversial social items as to not run afoul of the MC and board. Is there any reason I would run afoul of the MC and Board if I were to send to all
HOA members via the email addresses I now understand we are entitled to but have no access to? The objective here is to peacefully coexist. The MC post their info via portal which not too many people access. I think one community website featuring social and business would be the way to go but I suppose Things can continue with a “them” and “us” mentality which I wanted to ameliorate. This community has a very apathetic community and very apathetic board. My hope is to somehow bridge that which was the original purpose of setting up another website to be used by both.

CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1235


08/15/2020 8:35 AM  
People who create web sites are legally liable for any of the info appearing on that site. This is why you see extensive Terms of Service that prohibit a laundry list of offenses, give the site owner the right to remove any posts at the owner's sole discretion, and a clause that indemnifies the owner if the owner is prosecuted for posts made by users of the site.

Things that HOAs need to worry about:
* copyrighted material
* defamatory posts
* photos of minors posted without the parents' consent
* confidential information or other privacy violations
* hate speech
* speech that incites violence or other illegal behavior

This is why boards are usually advised to make any community web site "informational only". If the board wants to have an interactive site, they need to make it moderated (every post must be reviewed before it appears on the site) - and board members already devote a great deal of their time to serving on the board without throwing moderation duties on top of everything else. (Our association's attorney told us flat out to avoid social media since any benefits do not justify the considerable negatives.)

There are already web sites such as NextDoor where people who want babysitting lists or lost cat notices can sign up. They don't need to re-invent the wheel. But they should know that anyone who has visited such sites will have come across flame wars that made them think "thank heavens I don't live in that community." Is that the message you want to send to prospective buyers?


JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9877


08/15/2020 9:22 AM  
When a site allows anyone to post it generally becomes a bytching site. Avoid this mistake.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:3116


08/15/2020 12:21 PM  
Organized newsletter with Board involvement, sure.

Organized products posted with Board involvement and support, sure.

Otherwise, with two way comms posted, it devolves to a bunch of people yelling at one another.

It becomes facebook.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:4066


08/15/2020 10:03 PM  
Or worse: Next Door
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:1235


08/16/2020 5:10 AM  
"As for a website put up to be a B session, That absolutely is not and never will be the purpose of it. "

For the record: the developers of Facebook, NextDoor and other social media sites would have said the same thing in the early days.

Unless there are strict controls on posting (eg. the owner of the site can remove any post or any poster at their sole discretion, and they have the time to pro-actively police the site), then discussions will devolve into bytch sessions at some point.

If you provide a free platform for folks who want to post whatever they want, you'll quickly discover that the ones with an incentive to post will be the complainers. And despite their claims that they "want to make the community better", what they want to do is gripe. The complaining is the end goal, not the means to achieve anything.

In some ways apathy is a good sign: nothing is so badly wrong that people are up in arms. And contentment isn't necessarily a good sign. (My community is pretty happy, but I've started to see some red flags that will require digging into financial records that aren't being made available - sigh....)
AugustinD


Posts:3901


08/16/2020 7:57 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 08/16/2020 5:10 AM
despite their claims that they "want to make the community better", what they want to do is gripe.
And from experience, I would say 80% or more of the complaints will have no basis in the covenants or state law.

When a HOA/condo owner feels the association is truly breaking the law or a covenant, and can cite the law or covenant, I still support the owner ultimately using a home-made web site to get out the word. But I think less than 1% of owners know enough to read the HOA/condo's governing documents to see if their gripe is legitimate.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:4066


08/16/2020 10:31 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 08/16/2020 7:57 AM
Posted By CathyA3 on 08/16/2020 5:10 AM
despite their claims that they "want to make the community better", what they want to do is gripe.
And from experience, I would say 80% or more of the complaints will have no basis in the covenants or state law.

When a HOA/condo owner feels the association is truly breaking the law or a covenant, and can cite the law or covenant, I still support the owner ultimately using a home-made web site to get out the word. But I think less than 1% of owners know enough to read the HOA/condo's governing documents to see if their gripe is legitimate.

We had that exact situation here last week. An owner's website went up to encourage a "discussion". Anonymous commenting was allowed. After 20 posts in less than a week the owner took the site down. It was just getting warmed up.

This year's budget has $10,000 in it for "Tree Trimming". Only $1500 has been spent so far. There's no year-end splurge planned for trimming trees and some on the board want to use the unspent funds to fix a drainage situation in one corner of the property.

The main commenter on the neighbor's website was adamantly insisting that that would be "illegal".
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9877


08/16/2020 11:11 AM  
Shortly before our takeover from the Declarant one owner, cajoled by two others, started a newsletter whose overall tone was negative about the Declarant. I was on the Declarant appointed Advisory BOD. I started to write a rebuttal by then I thought of a better idea. Knowing there was nothing hidden, I advised the Declarant to invite the newsletter publisher to be on the Advisory BOD. He was invited and accepted.

Soon the tone of the newsletter changed to being positive about the Declarant and the Advisory BOD. Soon thereafter the original publisher decided it was to much effort to keep publishing it but nobody had any interest in taking it over so it died.

The two dissenters that had egged the publisher on and had been quite outspoken at Annual Meetings realized they were getting nowhere with their constant bytching. Several fellow owners had even turned on them at the Annual Meetings. They both stopped attending Annual Meetings.

We do not have a website but we do have an Email address (hoa name at g mail) and when an Email is sent to this address, it automatically gets distributed to each BOD Member so we all know what is going on.

MarshallT
(New York)

Posts:101


08/17/2020 6:32 AM  
Hi,

As others have mentioned, these sites can invite a lot of unproductive complaining and criticizing. The community could use something like Facebook to create a group where they can discuss issues. I think having contact information for the board available to homeowners is a great idea, but unfortunately you can't force the MC to make these changes.
MarshallT
(New York)

Posts:101


08/17/2020 6:32 AM  
Hi,

As others have mentioned, these sites can invite a lot of unproductive complaining and criticizing. The community could use something like Facebook to create a group where they can discuss issues. I think having contact information for the board available to homeowners is a great idea, but unfortunately you can't force the MC to make these changes.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:349


08/17/2020 8:15 AM  
Posted By RobertaT1 on 08/15/2020 8:32 AM
The capitalized LITTLE FREE LIBRARY was and is the way it is always advertised. No undue influence to “educate” the community.
The issue was the MC dictating location of the library, not the board or community members being involved with placement. The objective is to provide something, anything as a community builder. In the five years I’ve lived here there has not been one community activity. NOT ONE. The apathy can be cut with a knife. I’m aware the board And MC have no obligation to provide The residents with any community building activities. Their ONLY obligations are to maintain the appearance of the community. I get that. But it might be nice to once a year offer a social or something and my feeble,
Efforts are to that end.


As for a website put up to be a B session, That absolutely is not and never will be the purpose of it. My question which was not properly
Phrased was this: The MC and the board are totally adverse to any HOA business Posted by anyone aside from the MC which is why the
Site offers NOTHING board related at this moment. I asked the MC if we could combine the two and the answer was NYET. So, I post non controversial social items as to not run afoul of the MC and board. Is there any reason I would run afoul of the MC and Board if I were to send to all
HOA members via the email addresses I now understand we are entitled to but have no access to? The objective here is to peacefully coexist. The MC post their info via portal which not too many people access. I think one community website featuring social and business would be the way to go but I suppose Things can continue with a “them” and “us” mentality which I wanted to ameliorate. This community has a very apathetic community and very apathetic board. My hope is to somehow bridge that which was the original purpose of setting up another website to be used by both.





Hi Roberta.

I think community activities are fantastic. It is probably not in your manager's contract to plan and host community events however. And the board of directors may not want to take on that task in addition to their board duties. It's a lot of work. Perhaps you could volunteer to plan and run an event yourself. Or ask the board to let you form a social committee to do so. Of course right now we have to take COVID into account so this may be a next year project. There's no reason you can't host a community potluck in your own yard (again, once COVID limitations are past).

In terms of the website, its not uncommon (and in fact I'd recommend) that the official HOA site be informational only. The community I manage has a Facebook page where owners go to sometimes share useful information and sometimes share incorrect information and sometimes start really ugly arguments, including photos of peoples houses, children, and all sorts of inflammatory stuff. They do have moderators who remove things when they get really out of hand, but I spend a lot of time correcting misconceptions that people read on the facebook page regarding what is and isn't allowed in the neighborhood. That said, you'll never stop people from talking so I just direct owners to the actual website when they need factual info and the facebook page when they want a recommendation for a lawn service. Separate sites with separate purposes.

If you have an apathetic community and an apathetic board however, you've just got a tough row to hoe. The things you want need to be supported by others, whether it's the homeowners or the board. If neither group cares, you may just have to accept that they don't.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:3116


08/17/2020 3:55 PM  
Many of us probably have same experience as Barbara.

I'm in a new neighborhood of 659 single family houses and not on the board, but am on the financial committee (but still on Board of my rental neighborhood), and have been watching the fb page that is administered by a couple of board members.

Last night someone noted how unhappy they were that they didn't receive monthly financial statements since they pay dues monthly - now, I rarely do this, but wanted to gauge the neighborhood a bit:
- I responded assessments were annual and the tradition in the neighborhood was that payments were made quarterly
- They noted the lack of monthly financial statements delivered to them was shady
- I responded, noting the location in the Bylaws where it said they could review financial simply by asking in writing, or attend a board meeting where they we usually available
- They responded that I seemed like a know-it-all
- They noted with 1000 houses we collected over $1M a year
- I noted we have 659 houses and the exact amount that represented
- They got really upset, noting I didn't know what I was talking about
- They asked for the biggest cost item
- I provided the top three with approximate numbers and the percentages
- They noted security costs were out of control
- I noted the cost of security divided by the number of hours contracted was about $22, which included some overlap in the 24 hours per day 365 days per year. and included the cost of the security company
- They noted that was ridiculous
- They demanded I deliver the monthly financials to them
- They said they were going to have their accountant do an audit
- I note FS720 required an audit because our financials were over $750K
- They said they didnt care
- I noted an audit was usually over $5000
- They disappeared

So, my opinion is the same: provide one way information to HOA/COA/POA owners - LOTS of it! Do it often. This makes it really hard for them to complain about a lack of information. Most anything else, they should attend the board meetings and annual meeting.
AugustinD


Posts:3901


08/17/2020 6:07 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 08/17/2020 3:55 PM
So, my opinion is the same: provide one way information to HOA/COA/POA owners - LOTS of it! Do it often. This makes it really hard for them to complain about a lack of information. Most anything else, they should attend the board meetings and annual meeting.
I wonder whether small but incredibly substantive exchanges (like the one you described in your post above) are more effective than anything a HOA could send out.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3460


08/18/2020 9:03 AM  
Depends on the people making the exchange. What I like about George's exchange is that he stayed reasonable and answered with information, not name-calling, shouting (the all capital letter thing in emails). There are a lot of "I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with the facts!" people in HOA land (and some of them are HOA board members!" and when you hit them early and often with the information they can't withstand or contradict, they usually pipe down.

As for the HOA, I think it's in the packaging. If you're posting financial information online, it may be helpful to include sidebar articles explaining what's behind the information. For example, if you were to post the reserve study, it would be helpful to have another article summarizing what they are, how they're put together, and how the board uses them in budgeting.

Even so, too many people are just lazy these days and don't want anything to do with something that requires you sit down and take the time to read the information or listen to what's being said because critical thinking makes their heads hurt (especially if they realize they're wrong). I say boards should strive to put out the information anyway - you can't control if people will read it or how they'll react to it, but they'll never be able to say they weren't informed.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:4066


08/18/2020 10:49 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 08/17/2020 6:07 PM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 08/17/2020 3:55 PM
So, my opinion is the same: provide one way information to HOA/COA/POA owners - LOTS of it! Do it often. This makes it really hard for them to complain about a lack of information. Most anything else, they should attend the board meetings and annual meeting.
I wonder whether small but incredibly substantive exchanges (like the one you described in your post above) are more effective than anything a HOA could send out.

Could be. Until you have to do it again with another complainer. And then another, and another.

Some people know virtually nothing and yet are convinced that they know what's really going on. We had a homeowner causing all kinds of commotion by accusing the board of breaking this, that, and the other, because they didn't read the draft minutes of the previous meeting out loud at the start of every meeting. He was quite vociferous and got another 4 or 5 members really worked up about it. Someone pointed out to him that Roberts Rules allowed for minutes to be approved without actually reading them if they had been distributed to board members for review ahead of time. It was right there in front of him in black and white and he still refused to acknowledge that he had been wrong all along.

He stopped going to the board meetings a couple of months later.
AugustinD


Posts:3901


08/18/2020 10:56 AM  
Posted By GenoS on 08/18/2020 10:49 AM
Posted By AugustinD on 08/17/2020 6:07 PM
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 08/17/2020 3:55 PM
So, my opinion is the same: provide one way information to HOA/COA/POA owners - LOTS of it! Do it often. This makes it really hard for them to complain about a lack of information. Most anything else, they should attend the board meetings and annual meeting.
I wonder whether small but incredibly substantive exchanges (like the one you described in your post above) are more effective than anything a HOA could send out.

Could be. Until you have to do it again with another complainer. And then another, and another.
I think being repetitive goes with the job. Once a director or HOA/condo owner has the spiel down and is well-versed in the governing documents, being repetitive is no big deal.
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:10


08/23/2020 10:08 AM  
Our Association developed our own website even though our Management company has their own for the business side of running the Association. We use HOA Express and their templates as our guide to developing the on the web-site. We receive Board permission as to what is placed as a link and what information is added to each of the links. The information has allowed us to reduce printing expenses such as monthly newsletter and directories. All of our documents are available for any owner to see and for future Boards to be able to reference. The Association financials are still needs to go to the Property management company web-site for this information. A portion of the web-site is for the public to see and review, while the major information is limited only to the Owners.
BeckyT1
(South Carolina)

Posts:1


09/13/2020 8:17 AM  
Our Association also developed its own website with Board approval. The purpose of the website is to provide information about the community and to HOA members. Like Michael's, part of our website can be viewed by the public, but the majority of the information is limited to the owners. Things like our legal documents, rules and regulations, architectural guidelines, annual budget summaries, neighborhood activities calendar, even Board meeting minutes are available for owners to view. This serves as a useful reference when responding to residents questions and complaints. In addition, we publish a Board approved monthly neighborhood newsletter and a monthly communication from the Board and management company on the website.

Though the website has the functionality built in, our Board explicitly decided NOT to provide a 'message board' for residents, due to the high probability of griping, non-factual statements, and arguments. Not to be outdone, our residents are using Nextdoor for complaints and rants. People will find a way to express themselves! Our Board does not post responses on Nextdoor. We regularly remind residents that our HOA's official communication policy is to send correspondence to the property manager, who will share it with the Board.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:3116


09/13/2020 10:27 AM  
Becky,

Very nice summary, and certainly reflects my thoughts, as well!
AugustinD


Posts:3901


09/13/2020 10:39 AM  
Posted By BeckyT1 on 09/13/2020 8:17 AM
Though the website has the functionality built in, our Board explicitly decided NOT to provide a 'message board' for residents, due to the high probability of griping, non-factual statements, and arguments.
In particular, I believe the probability of non-factual statements is 110%. I believe I am someone who especially wants to see HOA owners' rights protected. Still, I figure like 95% of the time, I see HOA owners clueless about what their lawful rights are and bothering directors inappropriately or worse.

Then again, some HOA/condo Boards are even more clueless about what the lawful rights and duties of a HOA/condo board and HOA/condo corporation are.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9877


09/13/2020 10:44 AM  
Posted By BeckyT1 on 09/13/2020 8:17 AM
Our Association also developed its own website with Board approval. The purpose of the website is to provide information about the community and to HOA members. Like Michael's, part of our website can be viewed by the public, but the majority of the information is limited to the owners. Things like our legal documents, rules and regulations, architectural guidelines, annual budget summaries, neighborhood activities calendar, even Board meeting minutes are available for owners to view. This serves as a useful reference when responding to residents questions and complaints. In addition, we publish a Board approved monthly neighborhood newsletter and a monthly communication from the Board and management company on the website.

Though the website has the functionality built in, our Board explicitly decided NOT to provide a 'message board' for residents, due to the high probability of griping, non-factual statements, and arguments. Not to be outdone, our residents are using Nextdoor for complaints and rants. People will find a way to express themselves! Our Board does not post responses on Nextdoor. We regularly remind residents that our HOA's official communication policy is to send correspondence to the property manager, who will share it with the Board.



I say you do it the best way.
Please login to post a reply (click Member Login on the menu).
Forums > Homeowner Association > HOA Discussions > Community newsletter



Only members have access to all features.
Click here to join HOATalk for Free! Members click here to login and access all features.







General Legal Notice:  The content of forum messages are from the posting member and have not been reviewed nor endorsed by HOATalk.com.  Messages posted by HOATalk or other members are for informational purposes only, are not legal or professional advice and do not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.  HOATalk is not a licensed attorney, CPA, tax advisor, financial advisor or any other licensed professional.  HOATalk accepts ads from sponsors but does not verify sponsor qualifications nor endorse/guarantee any sponsor's product or service.
Legal Notice For Messages Posted by Sponsoring Attorneys: This message has been prepared by the sponsoring attorney for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Readers of HOATalk.com should not act on this information without seeking professional counsel. Please do not send any sponsoring attorney confidential information unless you speak with the sponsoring attorney or an attorney from the sponsoring attorney’s firm and get authorization to send that information to them. If you wish to initiate possible representation, please contact an attorney in the firm of the sponsoring attorney. Sponsoring attorneys that post messages here are licensed to practice law in a specific state or states as indicated in their message signature or sponsor’s profile page. (NOTE: A ‘sponsoring attorney’ is an attorney that is a HOATalk.com official sponsor and is identified as such in the posted message or on our sponsor page.)

Copyright HOA Talk.com, A Service of Community123 LLC ( Homeowners Association Discussions )   Terms Of Use  Privacy Statement