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Subject: Board members tattling on issues
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Author Messages
BrendaR5
(North Carolina)

Posts:2


07/08/2021 2:53 PM  
Has anyone had experience with bringing a neighbors violation of bylaws to a board member for their assistance, only to have the board member tattle to the neighbor on who “turned them in”? Shouldn’t these complaints be kept anonymous as to keep peace in the neighborhood? How do other communities handle these situations? Thankyou
ND
(PA)

Posts:610


07/08/2021 3:13 PM  
If it was definitely a case of you telling the Board Member and the Board Member telling the violator to intentionally put you in a sticky situation, then if I were you, I'd have no issue making sure that Board Member knows to their face that they are a POS. If the Board Member made an honest mistake then I'd be a bit more forgiving.

That said, to answer your actual questions . . .

Yes, your complaint to a specific Board Member should be kept anonymous to the fullest extent. That is how I/we would have handled a similar situation. However, I would have also asked you to follow our official complaint procedure which would require you to submit your complaint in an official manner (to start the process) as opposed to just seeing me on the street and telling me.

If the violation is something that the Board can confirm visually or with other factual evidence, then the you initially being the one who complained becomes irrelevant and the Board then becomes the "official" complainer. However, if your complaint cannot be verified with factual evidence, then things may become a bit more involved; however, your anonymity should be maintained as much and as long as possible IMO.

KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8290


07/08/2021 4:34 PM  
Completely agree with ND. Especially that the complainer should have been told to follow official policy about violations. AND, of course the director keeping the complainer's name confidential.

Are you the one who complained, or? In other words, what is your role here? Please note, too, that it's approvable a rule that was violated or perhaps a CC&R, but most likely not a Bylaw.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2154


07/09/2021 4:34 AM  
Here's our process:

* All complaints have to be in writing, dated and signed (homeowner's name and address). We don't react to anonymous complaints.

* Our complaint form asks if the author is willing to testify in court. This matters if the board is unable to verify the violation (either personally or via a second complaint from a different homeowner about the same violation). Boards don't want to go to court with nothing more than hearsay, so we won't pursue things unless we have reasonable supporting evidence.

I appreciate that people want to maintain cordial relations with their neighbors. At some point, though, you have to decide what kind of community you want to live in. If people are afraid to speak up, then the bad actors and bullies get to call the shots.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10364


07/09/2021 4:59 AM  
My rule was that you had to come to the meeting or if you chose to send a letter, it was read out loud to everyone in attendance. Either way, you had to present a resolution or agree for the board to do so. Plus we did not refer to people by names but by lot #'s.

It should also be noted that that board is the one that is responsible for enforcing violations as they see fit or are able. Someone may bring them a complaint but they decide if it is worthy of pursuing. If you have open meetings then most likely names may not be withheld on either side. If you run your HOA with transparency, then it's not like can keep it a secret from other people in attendance.

Former HOA President
GregM14
(South Carolina)

Posts:67


07/09/2021 9:11 AM  
We don't have a specific policy on the subject in our HOA, but our records are open to inspection by any member who wants to inspect, so we don't have anonymous complaints. I don't think it's purposeful to advertise who the complainant is to the violator, but the name of the complainer is not a hush hush secret either.

Our board meetings where we discuss this are open to all members. It would not be appropriate to bring out discussions of these situations into closed sessions, so the full complaint information is available to all if someone is so motivated. Few are that motivated however.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11180


07/09/2021 9:57 AM  
My BOD accepts all complaints even if anonymous. A member of the BOD will check the complaint out.
If valid we notify our MC to send out a violation notice. The violation goes out via the MC so the original
complainer's name never gets used.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:129


07/09/2021 10:10 AM  
In North Carolina violations fall under privacy laws. They are handled by our MC. Any communication about the issue is during Executive Session and the results of hearings are never shared.


Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8290


07/09/2021 1:38 PM  
Violations in CA also may be handled in executive session and that's how e do it. After all, the alleged violator has due process in Ca and may want to defend or explain their actions. Their privacy is protected.

Because the violation is confirmed by management, the HOA, as in JohnC's HOA, is the entity that's complaining and the original person is not involved.

If the complainer had to accuse someone of a violation in an open meeting, I'm pretty sure no one at my HOA would ever point out a violation for fear of retaliation. Imagine being on an elevator with the alleged violator once you've been forced to complain in public?
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1735


07/10/2021 9:17 AM  
Posted By BrendaR5 on 07/08/2021 2:53 PM
Has anyone had experience with bringing a neighbors violation of bylaws to a board member for their assistance, only to have the board member tattle to the neighbor on who “turned them in”? Shouldn’t these complaints be kept anonymous as to keep peace in the neighborhood? How do other communities handle these situations? Thankyou





It's "bad business" and poor leadership to notify a homeowner of a complainant's identity.

An HOA rules violation is matter handled between the violator and the HOA. That said, the complainant is owed ZERO response or acknowledgement once they've filed a complaint. Too many residents don't understand this part of discretion in handling HOA violations or investigations.

YES - it's best that complaint filings stay anonymous if at all possible.

NO - Don't be surprised if "palace intrigue" gets the best of poor-performing HOA board directors. In other words, simply be willing to stand behind your complaint if anonymity protection is broken.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4062


07/10/2021 9:08 PM  
You said "bylaws," but might you be referring to the CCRs (they usually dictate how the common area is to be used, and usually address things like parking, pets, noise, and other stuff that may prompt neighbors to crap on each other (and sometimes worse). That said, it may depend on the violation. If the neighbor put up something and didn't get prior approval from the board, the other neighbor can complain, and the board (or property manager) could investigate. If they see the violation, then the "complainant" would be the board, and it may not be necessary to bring in whoever reported it.

Personally, I'm not a fan of "anonymous" complaints - as a practical matter, the complainer doesn't always provide details on whatever the person did, which can make it difficult to investigate. Or they're misunderstanding an issue (or don't want to make the effort) and prefer the board to do the dirty work, as opposed to going over to the neighbor's house and discuss the matter. I know that can be dicey these days, but it's still worth a try (you may have to speak to someone else in the household if the person violating the bylaw or CCR is an a-hole.

Besides, there is something called due process in this country and that includes being able to confront one's accusers. If you're worried the a-hole may do something of the criminal kind, perhaps the issue is best forwarded to the non-emergency side of the police department - board members aren't cops. Finally, if the matter escalates to the point legal action is necessary, the complainant neighbor may need to testify as to what he or she saw or heard to strengthen the association's case.

Our approach was we don't take anonymous complaints at all. We don't go to neighbor #2 and say "Mrs. So and So told us that you..." either, but the complainer is told he/she may be asked to provide a statement or testify if things escalate. If our property manager or a board member doesn't see the issue or it's clearly a dispute between neighbors, neighbor 1 is told to go talk to the other one. They can always contact our security officer to talk to the neighbor if he/she has a bad temper.

BrendaR5
(North Carolina)

Posts:2


07/12/2021 12:38 PM  
Hello, yes I was the individual who made a written complaint to a board member regarding a new neighbor who moved in and proceeded to set up a clothesline rack in their backyard which could be seen from my yard and the road and the pool. It contained underwear, bras and other items I have no desire to look at while I am sitting on my porch. Clothesline’s temporary or otherwise are not permitted where I live. The new residents left these outside for over 24 hours. The next day after I reported it to the board member I was verbally and nearly physically (in my personal space) assalted by this neighbor. I was trying to avoid this by having it handled by a POA board member.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8290


07/12/2021 1:57 PM  
Individual board members should not be approached with complaints. Only the Board as a whole can handle complaints. The written complaints should be to the board of directors via your property manager if you have one. In your case, pictures of the violation would be very helpful.

In our HOA and maybe in your, Brenda, there's a from to full out to give to our PM with a few questions. The form promises to protect the comparer's privacy. How ARE you supped to make a complaint in your HOA?
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1735


07/12/2021 4:08 PM  
Posted By BrendaR5 on 07/12/2021 12:38 PM
Hello, yes I was the individual who made a written complaint to a board member regarding a new neighbor who moved in and proceeded to set up a clothesline rack in their backyard which could be seen from my yard and the road and the pool. It contained underwear, bras and other items I have no desire to look at while I am sitting on my porch. Clothesline’s temporary or otherwise are not permitted where I live. The new residents left these outside for over 24 hours. The next day after I reported it to the board member I was verbally and nearly physically (in my personal space) assalted by this neighbor. I was trying to avoid this by having it handled by a POA board member.




Brenda,

Since you've been exposed, stand behind your word and, if it's a violation, insist on a remedy. You were also appropriate to take your complaint to an individual board member if that's the most-efficient HOA official you could reach or is the board director that represents your immediate property area.

That board member caused problems and it makes HOAs look bad.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4062


07/12/2021 4:20 PM  
It wasnt appropriate for the board member to tell takes out of svhoole, but frankly, you bought this on yourself - why didn't you just go to the neighbor and discuss the matter? You said the neighbor is new - did you not consider that maybe he or she wasn't aware of the rule? If the stuff was out there for 24 hours, it's not like touching have time to go over and tell him (in a nice way). Instead you went from zero to 60 by going straight to the board.

This makes me think you didn't have the courtesy of bugs to cleanup but prefer to have the board be the enforcer. I'd understand if the neighbor ignored you or told you to kick rocks. Now you've gotten off to a bad start with these people - no, the shouting and getting in personal space was appropriate eithet.

Let's start over - how about finding the board member who spilled the tea, as it were and see if he or she would be willing to go to the neighbor with you to sassy this. You apologize for not discussing this with him off her at the start, he or she can apologize for flying off the handlebars the board member can later apologize to you or running his mouth. All of you can Learn from this.

MaxB4
(Maine)

Posts:701


07/12/2021 4:24 PM  
Posted By SheliaH on 07/12/2021 4:20 PM
It wasnt appropriate for the board member to tell takes out of svhoole, but frankly, you bought this on yourself - why didn't you just go to the neighbor and discuss the matter? You said the neighbor is new - did you not consider that maybe he or she wasn't aware of the rule? If the stuff was out there for 24 hours, it's not like touching have time to go over and tell him (in a nice way). Instead you went from zero to 60 by going straight to the board.

This makes me think you didn't have the courtesy of bugs to cleanup but prefer to have the board be the enforcer. I'd understand if the neighbor ignored you or told you to kick rocks. Now you've gotten off to a bad start with these people - no, the shouting and getting in personal space was appropriate eithet.

Let's start over - how about finding the board member who spilled the tea, as it were and see if he or she would be willing to go to the neighbor with you to sassy this. You apologize for not discussing this with him off her at the start, he or she can apologize for flying off the handlebars the board member can later apologize to you or running his mouth. All of you can Learn from this.




Feel better?
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4062


07/12/2021 4:39 PM  
Jeepers, that post was a mess! What I meant to say was:

You could have avoided this By just going over to the neighbor's house and discuss the matter In a nice way. You said they're new, so maybe they didn't know the rules. Instead, you went straight to the board - I could see doing that if the neighbor ignored you and did it again and/or told you where to go and what to do when you got there.

Let's start over and this time bring in the board member who ran his mouth- he's partially responsible for this, so he can help clean it up by negotiating the peace. You apologize for not trying to talk to the neighbor first, he or she apologized for going off and the board member can later apologize younglings his lack of discretion.



KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8290


07/12/2021 4:41 PM  
Good ideas, Sheila. I agree tha the best approach is to directly and gently contact the neighbor.

Kelly raises a interesting point. perhaps in Brenda's HOA and in many others, owners should go to their nearest director to report alleged violations and maybe some HOAs do have individual directors responsible for specific sections of the HOA. I've just never heard of such arrangements. Glad to learn something new.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8290


07/12/2021 4:42 PM  
Good ideas, Sheila. I agree that the best approach is to directly and gently contact the neighbor.

Kelly raises a interesting point. Perhaps in Brenda's HOA and in others, owners should go to their nearest director to report alleged violations and maybe some HOAs do have individual directors responsible for specific sections of the HOA. I've just never heard of such arrangements. Glad to learn something new.
MaxB4
(Maine)

Posts:701


07/12/2021 5:00 PM  
When I was on my Board, I would walk my two dogs on a daily basis around the community. I would get stopped daily with people saying hi, maybe bringing up a subject that the board should look at. It was always understood that if this happened, I was one person, and couldn't take any action on my own generally. If a maintenance issue arose, I might send a email to the PM to address and copy the board. Sometimes a personnel issue might come up that may have involved the PM and that was addressed internal with board members.

To be on the fair side, most of the board members have no clue what should or shouldn't be divulged, after all, they are board members and don't know proper protocol, and these are their neighbors and in some instances their friends.
AnnaJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:61


07/22/2021 9:56 AM  
Y-E-S.

I'm our HOA president. We have a clueless Board member that not only does this, but runs around creating friction between homeowners and the BOD, when a decision is made that he disagrees with. ("The rest of the Board is self-serving, dumb, out to get members, etc) Subsequently, the meetings turn into b*tch sessions/attack the BOD sessions. It's beyond frustrating.

I spoke to the jerk privately to no avail. Our Bylaws/CCR's have no recourse for a jackass Board member. So, if they seem reasonable try to just have a conversation with them.

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