Gossip, apathy and insurrection are enemies of good condo governance.
Apathy sets in when home owners find they lack control or access to information. This occurs when management or the board chooses to avoid sharing information or discourage owner participation.
There is a common misconception that condo owners don’t participate in the affairs of their home because of apathy. Nothing could be further from the truth. A home is the single largest purchase for most. Everyone has a stake in its management.
Apathy sets in when home owners find they lack control or access to information. This occurs when management or the board chooses, intentionally or inadvertently, to avoid sharing information or discourage owner participation. Most owners then choose to ignore what goes on around them. Symptoms of apathy include low attendance at meetings regardless of the agenda, difficulty in achieving quorum, inability to pass by-laws, lack of candidates to serve as directors and vacant positions on the condo board.
The problem, in most cases, is poor planning and communication both of which can be corrected.
Effective meetings encourage owner participation which leads to increased attendance and willingness to volunteer. Meetings should be planned for the convenience of most by selecting an appropriate day, time and location. For those unable to attend, electronic voting offers convenient ways to vote on important matters. Attendance can be encouraged by having shorter meetings. Keep meetings from becoming boring by limiting the agenda to necessary or important matters. Incorporate a social activity such as a barbecue, finger food, wine and cheese, or guest speaker.
Gossip, the spreading of rumours or false information, is to some extent unavoidable
Gossip, the spreading of rumours or false information, is to some extent unavoidable. It becomes a problem when there is a lack of communication. There may be owner meetings or communications where not everyone is invited to participate. A private Facebook page closed to some provides a forum for gossip. Anonymous postings, throughout a building or electronically, alleging management or board misdeeds creates mistrust. Owner calls or letters repeating incorrect information they “heard” is a clear indication of poor communication.
Gossip can be countered with more frequent communication and meetings. Make owners aware of information before they hear alternate versions elsewhere.
Apathy and gossip, when allowed to fester, can lead to insurrection – one or more owners working to disrupt or replace the board
Apathy and gossip, when allowed to fester, can lead to insurrection – one or more owners working to disrupt or replace the board. Symptoms include owners harassed or deceived in an attempt to obtain their proxies, fraudulent proxies, frequent interruption of meetings and attendance of non-owner lawyers at meetings.
Insurrection differs from healthy debate. Debate is discussion of a matter for better understanding and to make better decisions. Insurrection occurs when owners feel they can no longer work with the current board or management and actively seek change.
Insurrection, once initiated, is difficult to reverse. Better to address today’s apathy and gossip than be faced with tomorrow’s insurrection.